Leader of Internet Gambling Operation Sentenced to Prison
HONOLULU—Felix Gee Wan Tom, age 40, of Honolulu, was sentenced today by Chief United States District Judge Susan Oki Mollway to six months of imprisonment for transmission of wagering information, money laundering, and filing a false tax return. Tom also forfeited over $4 million in assets, including two condominiums in Honolulu and a house in Las Vegas, and was ordered to pay $118,601 in taxes owed. The sentencing is the last of 27 Oahu residents prosecuted for a variety of gambling and other offenses related to Internet gambling. The other defendants received sentences ranging from probation to 10 months in prison.
Florence T. Nakakuni, United States Attorney for the District of Hawaii, said that starting in 2009, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Honolulu Police Department conducted a joint undercover investigation into a large-scale Internet gambling operation established by Allen Yamada and led by Tom. According to information produced in court, the investigation revealed that, between 2005 and 2012, the illegal operation placed gross wagers totaling over approximately $670 million through Internet websites based in Costa Rica.
U.S. Attorney Nakakuni said that according to law enforcement investigations, in the last several years, dozens of Internet bookmakers have come into existence, many of whom are located in foreign countries where bookmaking activities are not illegal. These bookmakers direct their activities toward bettors in America, who are interested in gambling on American sporting events such as baseball, football, and basketball.
The prosecution identified Tom as the master agent for in excess of 20 agents located primarily on Oahu. As a master agent, Tom recruited, trained, and supervised the agents and provided agents with login credentials (username/password) for use by players to access his Internet sports betting websites. Tom also collected gambling losses from and made payments on gambling winnings to his agents, and split profits with agents. The investigation also revealed that many agents also recruited sub-agents (lower-level bookies or runners), who also had their own client base.
The following defendants pled guilty to transmission of wagering information, money laundering, and filing false tax return, in addition to Tom:
- Darin Fujimori, age 39 (forfeiture $266,600, tax $127,395)
- Jeffrey Ibara, age 36 (forfeiture $217,666, tax $6,791)
- Anh Phuong Lam, age 31 (forfeiture $140,000 + house in Las Vegas $175,000, tax $19,226)
- Vietanh J. Tran, age 33 (forfeiture $607,423, tax $82,410)
- Allen Yamada, age 41 (forfeiture $793,136, tax $45,120)
- Ponciano Erice, age 39 (forfeiture $190,000, tax $64,779)
The following defendants pled guilty to money laundering:
- Jason Chang, age 38 (forfeiture $83,466)
- Thomas Ky, age 47 (forfeiture $1,336,500)
- James Striker, age 56 (forfeiture $145,600)
The following defendants pled guilty to transmission of wagering information and filing false tax return:
- Chad Rees, age 41 (forfeiture $20,000, tax $14,644)
- Terrence Ching, age 41 (forfeiture $636,115, tax $25,173)
- Dane Amii, age 40 (tax $3,113)
- Harry Endo, age 46 (forfeiture $253,536, tax $61,118)
- Chad Fujiwara, age 44 (forfeiture $310,000, tax $37,601)
- Dean Horie, age 39 (forfeiture $749,000, tax $25,753)
- Dax Migita, age 34 (forfeiture $102,773, tax $15,344)
- Phalakone Oshiro, age 39 (forfeiture $76,000, tax $19,338)
- Jerome Romano, age 41 (forfeiture $33,932, tax $29,515)
The following defendants pled guilty to transmission of wagering information and failing to file monthly tax return for wages:
- Justyn Tabaniag, age 25 (tax $14,045)
- Troy Sakata, age 47 (forfeiture $40,868, tax $6,113)
- James Hayden, age 29 (forfeiture $14,870, Tax $14,045)
- Chad Iwamoto, age 41 (forfeiture $104,850, tax $48,373)
- Alvin Ngo, age 27 (forfeiture $54,371, tax $58,059)
- Jack Shizuru, age 65 (forfeiture $3,794, tax $5,586)
- Mathew Verdugo, age 30 (forfeiture $8,155, tax $42,401)
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Larry Butrick.