The Department of Justice announced Wednesday that law enforcement officers arrested several people on the Big Island indicted by a federal grand jury in
Honolulu on Nov. 20 for operating an illegal gambling business and conspiring to do so.
The following people were charged with the offenses:
- Eric Ford, age 45
- Marlo Banasan, 34
- Matthew Phillips, 39
- Kendale Limahai, 47
- Robert Bland, 35
- Jonah Yardley, 37
- Trevor Carter, 24
The grand jury also charged Ford and an eighth defendant, Barbara Ford, 44, with 25 counts of structuring financial transactions for the purpose of evading federal reporting requirements, which includes the filing of a Currency Transaction Report with the IRS by a financial institution in regard to any currency transaction over $10,000.
Everyone, except Bland and Barabara Ford, were arrested on Wednesday.
United States Attorney Nakakuni said that, according to the indictment, Eric Ford
operated an illegal gambling business from at least November 2009, until Nov. 20, 2012, out of a water company business located in Kailua-Kona.
The indictment alleges that the gambling operation consisted of sports betting and various gambling events, to include poker games and craps games, and used an offshore gaming website.
The six other defendants, not including Barbara Ford, are alleged to have assisted Eric Ford in the taking of bets, collection of gambling debts, and payment of gambling winnings.
If convicted of the gambling and conspiracy charges, each defendant faces a maximum term of imprisonment of five years on each count.
Each of the structuring charges also carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
The case resulted from an investigation initiated by the Hawaii Police Department’s
Criminal Intelligence Unit. Through an established partnership among the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Hawaii Police Department, and the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, investigators were able to uncover the breadth of the illegal gambling enterprise.
"The FBI would like to acknowledge the Hawaii Police Department and the IRS for their outstanding investigative actions that led to today’s arrests," said Honolulu FBI Special Agent Tom Simon. "The Hawaii Police, the IRS and the FBI remain committed to dismantling organized crime on the Big Island for the greater good of the local citizens."