Thursday, July 22, 1999

Seven indicted in Maui
bookmaking gambling ring
using state property

By Rod Ohira


Four state Department of Accounting and General Services employees and the former beverage executive were among seven men indicted on federal charges of operating a bookmaking operation.

Yesterday's indictment identifies Francis "Moody" Kahoohalahala, 54, a state repairs and maintenance assistant, as the leader of the bookmaking gambling ring that operated from the Maui DAGS office, 179 Kaahumanu Ave., Kahului.

Alan "Mango" Murakami, 46, and Kenneth "Beep Beep" Ogata, 65, building construction inspectors, and Shigeru Sano, 72, an engineering program manager, are other DAGS employees indicted.

Also charged were Sunao "Suna" Takamiya, 71, former president of Maui Beverage & Supply; Gordon Carl "Kuni" Cockett, 68; and William "Billy" Bettis, 53.

The Maui group accepted "6-5," "parlay" and "block pool" wagers on college and professional football games during the 1994-95 and 1995-96 seasons, using "point-spread sheets" prepared by a group on Oahu, says the indictment. The alleged Oahu connection involved Donald Morita, Melfred Lum and Richard Takaki, who were also charged yesterday, said U.S. Attorney Steven Alm.

The indictment alleges that Kahoohalahala and the Oahu group agreed to a 50-50 split of weekly net gambling proceeds. The scope of the operation is reflected in one set of records seized by federal authorities at the Maui DAGS office, which show that during one two-day period, 332 wagers were made totaling $65,355.

Murakami and Cockett served as bookmakers and runners while Sano allegedly sold "block pools" for Kahoohalahala's operation.

Ogata, Takamiya and Bettis were basically runners, who on a weekly basis -- usually on Wednesdays -- distributed point-spread and parlay sheets and also collected or paid off wagers for the organization.

Kahoohalahala's bookmaking organization utilized residences, businesses, places of employment, vehicles, telephones, cellular telephones, pagers, photocopying and facsimile machines -- some of which are owned by the state.

The indictment says that in 1994, Murakami received point-spread sheets from Takaki on Tuesday mornings and that the Maui group later reported bottom-line figures on wagers to Lum.

From September to October 1994, Murakami and Lum met regularly from Fridays through Sundays at a Maui hotel to take bets. They later moved the operation to a Maalaea condominium.

When Maui police began executing multiple search warrants in November 1994, Cockett took over bookmaking from Murakami.

The conspiracy and gambling counts each carry maximum penalties of up to five years' imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

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