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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Hawaii

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

United States seeks forfeiture of numerous real properties and over $200,000 connected with illegal gambling operation

HONOLULU, Hawaii – On September 16, 2019, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Hawaii filed a civil complaint seeking the forfeiture of two single-family residences, located at 1577 Hoolehua Street in Pearl City and 94-103 Pupupuhi Street in Waipahu, which were alleged to be operating as illegal game rooms. The next day, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Hawaii Kenji M. Price announced that 12 defendants had been charged in connection with the illegal gambling business at the two game rooms.

Today, U.S. Attorney Price announced the filing of an amended civil complaint, which seeks forfeiture of two additional real properties, over $200,000.00 in U.S. currency, and various other items connected to the illegal gambling operation.

According to the amended complaint, the additional real properties, which are located at 555 South Street and 2609 B Liliha Street in Honolulu, are residences of certain individuals involved in the illegal gambling operation. Both residences were used in the illegal gambling operation. For example, the amended complaint alleges that the Liliha Street property contained 24 illegal gaming machines, gaming machine equipment, and various ledgers, work schedules and other documents related to the illegal gambling operation. The 555 South Street property is additionally alleged to be forfeitable as it was purchased with illegal gambling proceeds.

The U.S. currency at issue includes over $70,000.00 seized from bank accounts held by Seng Cheong Lio, Seng Long Lio, Shi Hua Huang, and Shi Min Huang, which the amended complaint alleges is subject to forfeiture as property used in the illegal gambling operation, money laundering, and structuring. 

The amended complaint alleges that, since at least 2016, the aforementioned individuals and others have been implicated in the operation of at least nine illegal game rooms.

U.S. Attorney Price said, “In addition to being illegal, the game rooms can bring violent crime and drugs to residential neighborhoods. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to curtail the presence of illegal game rooms in our community, including potentially seeking forfeiture of ownership interests in properties where such activity takes place.”

The amended complaint merely contains allegations. The United States will not own the properties unless and until a sufficient basis for forfeiture is proven in Court.

These cases are being investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Homeland Security (Homeland Security Investigations), Hawaii High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program (HIDTA), U.S. Marshals Service Hawaii Fugitive Task Force, and the Honolulu Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Micah Smith, Rachel Moriyama, Sara Ayabe, Jeremy Butler, Mohammed Khatib, and Sydney Spector are handling the cases.

Elliot Enoki
Updated January 22, 2020