Saturday, October 2, 1999

6 indicted in
Big Isle betting

Investigation continues into
the sports bookies' partners on Oahu

By Debra Barayuga


Six Big Island residents have been indicted by a federal grand jury for running a sports betting operation up to the 1997-98 college and professional football seasons.

The operation is considered one of the larger "6-5" operations on the Big Island in recent years, said Capt. Sam Thomas, head of the Criminal Intelligence Unit of the Hawaii County Police Department.

Charged in yesterday's indictment were: Carlton Torres; his wife, Danita; Moses Bautista; Francisco Garcia; Bruno Villacorte; and Jason Hanano.

The group is charged with operating an illegal gambling business, money laundering and money laundering conspiracy.

Sixty-one of the counts charge the Torres couple with money laundering and a separate count of conspiracy to launder the proceeds.

Federal authorities are seeking forfeiture of about $175,000 -- an amount investigators have been able to track based on records -- as well as the Torreses' North Kohala home, where they conducted the bookmaking operation, said U.S. Attorney Steve Alm.

The Torreses are alleged to have been in charge of the Big Island "house" while the others, all employees of Kohala coast hotels, were "runners" who took and placed bets, collected winnings and paid off losses.

When the operation began is unknown, but it was in place by the middle of the 1994-95 football season and is linked to individuals on Oahu, Alm said.

According to the indictment, the complex operation included winnings deposited into the Torreses' bank accounts and withdrawals of nearly the same amount on the same day or the next day to pay off themselves or the runners.

If the Big Island house incurred weekly net gambling losses to an Oahu house, the Torreses would deposit cash into accounts held by their Oahu associates, purchase cashier's checks made payable to the Oahu associates, or deposit cash into their personal accounts and write a check payable to the Oahu associates that day, the indictment says.

Although a bulk of the betting occurred on the Big Island, an investigation is continuing into the Oahu part of the operation, which is considered the bigger partner, Alm said.

Illegal gambling is punishable by a penalty of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Money laundering and money laundering conspiracy each carry a maximum 20 years in prison and $500,000 fine.

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