Teddy Mitchell and his co-defendants in the Oklahoma illegal gambling case can take solace knowing that they now have some company…all the way from Hawaii.
Seven individuals from the Big Island have been arrested by the Hawaii County Police and the FBI over their apparent involvement in running a sophisticated gambling operation that’s been running for the past three years. The seven individuals have been identified as Eric Ford, 45; Marlo Banasan, 34; Matthew Phillips, 39; Kendale Limahai, 47; Robert Bland, 35; Jonah Yardley, 37; Trevor Carter 24, and Barbara Ford, 44. An eight person in Arizona, Robert Bland, 35, is expected to be arrested soon.
Talking to Hawaii News Now, FBI special agent Tom Simon said that the indictment alleges a wide variety of illegal gambling activity that was being conducted on the Big Island. According to Simon, the operation used a water company identified as the Aloha Spring Water Company at 73-5574 Olowalu Street in Kailua Kona as their front. Behind it, though, lies an intricate string of illegal gambling activities that included poker games, craps games, and illegal sports gambling.
The indictment points to Eric Ford as the brains behind the outfit with Barbara Ford tasked to be the designated treasurer, helping hide the money. The other six defendants were responsible for taking bets, collecting payments, and paying off winnings to customers. It’s also been alleged that the entire ring was taking in more than $2,000 a day, a total that, in the three years that it’s been running, has generated millions of dollars. And the operation was doing it while structuring the money in such a way that it was hidden from the IRS. Sneaky, sneaky.
On top of running the operation out of the water shop, the gambling ring also allegedly used World Wide Wagering, an offshore gambling site, in order to place sports bets.
“The indictment alleges millions of dollars of illegal betting activity that was going on with this ring as well as some of the activity of them structuring deposits to hide the activity that was going on and that’s why the IRS was involved,” said Simon.
Should the defendants be found guilty of running the illegal gambling ring, each of them could face five years in prison for operating an illegal gambling business. In addition, Eric and Barbara Ford were also charged with 25 counts of structuring financial transactions to evade federal reporting requirements, including the IRS requirement for banks to file currency transaction reports for any transaction of more than $10,000.