Tuesday, July 9, 2002

No jail for 2 HPD
workers in gambling bust

By Debra Barayuga

Two Honolulu police civilian dispatchers will not serve jail time for felony gambling convictions, but their jobs could be in jeopardy.

Circuit Judge Karen Ahn sentenced the two dispatchers and two others yesterday for operating a casino-type gambling operation at James Frank Ward's Aiea home.

Ward received five years' probation. Saying he should have known better, Ahn rejected Ward's request to have his guilty plea to first-degree promotion of gambling deferred. A deferral would have allowed Ward, an employee with the Police Department for 14 years, to wipe his record clean if he complies with conditions similar to probation.

Ward, 39, was also ordered to pay the Crime Victim Compensation Commission $2,500 and a fine of $1,500.

Citing defense arguments that gambling is a part of the culture in Hawaii, "Until they change the law, it's against the law to gamble -- period," Ahn said.

Dispatcher Trisha Takayesu, 35, was granted a deferral as long as she stays out of trouble for one year. She must pay $1,500 to the Crime Victims Compensation Commission and a fine of $2,000. She pleaded guilty to five counts of second-degree promotion of gambling in exchange for the state dropping a charge of first-degree promotion of gambling.

According to Deputy Prosecutor Randal Lee, the dice games raked in $5,000 over five days in July, August and September 2000. The house was also collecting $10 per hour.

Defense Attorney Scott Collins said his clients had believed they were engaged only in social gambling and that the $10 was intended for food and refreshments. He said in no way were Ward and Takayesu's gambling activities linked to the HPD or their work as dispatchers.

"Once they realized the pickle they got into, they wanted to fix it," Collins said.

He added that while gambling victimizes society as a whole, no one in this case was a victim or suffered losses.

Ward and Takayesu, however, apologized for their acts, saying they used poor judgment and had made mistakes. They talked about how their actions brought shame and embarrassment to family, friends and co-workers.

Both dispatchers were reassigned to other positions within the department following their arrest.

Their cases are pending a review by the department's Internal Review Board who will make a recommendation ranging from no action to termination, said police spokeswoman Michelle Yu. Chief of Police Lee Donohue will have the final say.

Also sentenced yesterday were:

>> Ray Takeshita, 49, with two previous misdemeanor gambling convictions, received five years' probation and was ordered to pay the Crime Victims Compensation Commission $5,000 and a $1,500 fine.

>> His sister, Iris Takeshita, 47, and Romeo Marzan, 24, both received five-year deferrals. Takeshita was ordered to pay $1,500 to the Crime Victims Compensation Commission and a $5,000 fine. Marzan must pay $2,500 to the Crime Victims Compensation Commission and a $5,000 fine.

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