Hundreds of criminal charges were filed after a huge crackdown on sweepstakes machines, and authorities warn customers could be next.
Last Thursday, a grand jury returned a 414-count indictment against nine people — three establishment owners and six employees. The list of criminal charges includes promoting gambling and money laundering.
Several were arrested Friday and two more, Quentin Canencia and Desiree Haina, were booked late Monday afternoon. The last two people, Mike Miller and Mike Madali, are on the mainland and will be arrested when they return to Hawaii, according to Kaneshiro.
Monday afternoon, the city prosecutor and Honolulu Police Dept. spoke for the first time about the sweepstakes machines indictment. They say their investigation is not over.
“This is the evidence that we have analyzed so far. We have more evidence that we have to go through,” said Honolulu Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro.
“Those who have it in their establishments, it would be wise to remove them because if they don’t, the HPD will be coming after them,” said HPD Maj. Jerry Inouye.
The indictment followed Wednesday’s decision by a federal court judge that ruled sweepstakes-types machines are illegal.
“It helps us. It wasn’t the basis of why we did it. It just further confirms what we believe to be true that these machines are gambling machines,” Kaneshiro said.
Law enforcement seized 200 machines from 14 different locations, including Lucky Touch and Prize World.
HPD says residents have complained about this type of establishment on a weekly basis, and that crime within the vicinity of these establishments has increased.
“There’s no amount of resources that can measure the value in living in a community that’s safe for everyone,” said HPD Chief Louis Kealoha.
The city prosecutor says now that authorities have video inside the establishments, they can find the people involved in the crimes and people who have used the machines. He says authorities could go after these customers as well.
“So there’s a clear warning to the people out there who are still operating the machines that the City and County of Honolulu is not going to tolerate illegal gambling in this city,” Kaneshiro said.
The city is warning customers who use these machines to stop or they could be charged with a crime and be a part of this investigation.
The owners and employees who have already been charged will be arraigned in Circuit Court later this week.