Maui police arrest 24
for cockfight gambling

By Gary T. Kubota

WAILUKU >> Maui police have arrested at least 24 people in a crackdown on illegal cockfight gambling and organized crime activities on the Valley Isle.

"As a result of the investigation, a multitude of grand jury indictments were obtained," Maui police spokesman Jamie Becraft said.

Becraft said the investigation, dubbed Operation Down the Hatch, had been going on for nearly a year.

Yesterday alone, 24 people were arrested and charged, 15 of them with felony racketeering. One of those facing a racketeering charge is 47-year-old William Riddick, who lost in his bid for Maui mayor in the primary election last year and ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for a Makawao Council seat in 1996. He was also charged with three counts of first-degree gambling and three counts of animal cruelty. He was being held last night in lieu of $20,000 bail.

A number of those indicted were being processed by police throughout yesterday and are scheduled to appear in Maui Circuit Court this morning.

Deputy Prosecutor J.W. Hupp said the charges against individuals range from felony racketeering to misdemeanor gambling.

He said the individuals mainly belong to two organizations involved in cockfighting, with a total of 20 people charged with racketeering. Hupp said 93 charges were filed against individuals in one group, and 87 charges against suspects in the other.

"All or most of them are Maui residents," he said.

Racketeering, the most serious felony, carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.

Hupp said some of the illegal activities took place on public and private property, but no government officials were indicted.

Hupp said he believes police will be holding a news conference today to release more information. "I think you'll know some names, but I'm not going to comment on it," Hupp said.

Becraft said more arrests are expected.

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