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Thursday, March 2, 2000

Bowlers sue
travel agent for
Vegas trip money

By Treena Shapiro


A travel agent who cheated 36 bowlers out of Las Vegas packages refunded half their money before they left for a Feb. 17 tournament at the Gold Coast Hotel.

The group used tickets booked through another agency.

The bowlers are members of the Hawaii Government Employees Association. They took Wayne Abe to small claims court a week and a half ago and the agent now has until the end of March to pay back the remainder of the $13,000 he took from them to purchase air and hotel packages.

"It's better than nothing. A lot of us expected nothing to come out of this," said Stanley Sano, one of Abe's victims.

Sano doesn't expect to see the rest of the money, or the free additional trip Abe promised.

"I was surprised because I didn't think he'd come up with any money actually," he said.

Sano said Abe could have improved the situation by explaining why he needed the money.

"If he was sincere about it and would tell us why, maybe we could sympathize," he said.

Abe could not be reached for comment. His telephone has been disconnected and he didn't return a page.

Police are still investigating the case. The Regulated Industries Complaints Office has completed its investigation and the legal department is currently discussing how to proceed, said complaints and enforcement officer Jo Ann Uchida.

Uchida said the office won't drop the case even though Abe paid back some of the money. However, Uchida added, "he can only improve his situation by continuing to make restitution to people."

And if Abe can't make the payment?

"You can't squeeze blood out of a turnip, but there are civil and criminal sanctions that he may be subjected to," Uchida said. "There may be situations in which he would be compelled to come up with the money."

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