Yamadas plead not guilty to hindering, tampering

  • From left, Stacey Yamada and Lance Yamada appear Friday in Hilo Circuit Court with attorney Jeremy Butterfield. (HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald)

HILO — Brothers charged with criminal conspiracy to hinder prosecution and two counts of second-degree tampering with physical evidence in connection with a police raid on their downtown Hilo arcade entered not guilty pleas Friday to all charges.

Hilo Circuit Judge Henry Nakamoto ordered 56-year-old Lance Yamada and 52-year-old Stacey Yamada to appear for trial at 9 a.m. Oct. 7 before Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura.

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Both are free on $2,000 bail.

A Kona grand jury indicted the Yamadas on Monday. The charges, all misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in jail, are connected to a gambling raid on Aug. 10, 2017, at Triple 7 Amusement, an establishment owned by the brothers, in the Canario Building in downtown Hilo.

Nine people were arrested in that raid, including Stacey Yamada and Carol Luciano, then 68, both on suspicion of first-degree promotion of gambling, a Class C felony. Those charges haven’t been filed.

Seven others were charged with misdemeanor gambling. One, Tomas Guerrero, then 83, pleaded no contest and was fined $100. Another, Martha Keohuloa, was granted a deferral on her no contest plea and her conviction was expunged from the record after a year. The cases of the other five individuals were dismissed.

According to police, 16 gambling devices were confiscated from the establishment, as were other electronic equipment and an undisclosed amount of cash.

Two retired Hawaii Police Department officers and two civilians also are accused of tipping off the Yamadas and helping them to hide or destroy evidence in connection with the raid.

Chadwick Fukui, a 67-year-old retired police captain and former commander of Hilo Criminal Investigations Division, faces two counts each of second-degree hindering prosecution and tampering with physical evidence.

Brian Miller, a 55-year-old retired detective who worked in the Hilo Vice Section, also is charged with two counts each of second-degree hindering prosecution and tampering with physical evidence in connection with the Aug. 10, 2017, raid.

Miller also faces numerous, apparently unconnected theft- and drug-related charges in connection with cocaine allegedly stolen from a police evidence locker in Hilo in May 2016.

And Ivar Kaluhikaua, 43, and David Colon, 62, both civilians — face the same charges as Fukui.

All appeared in court Thursday, although none have yet entered pleas. All are free on bail — Miller having posted $10,000, and Fukui, Kaluhikaua and Colon, $2,000 each.

The Yamadas and four others — Glen Haraguchi, April Whiting-Haraguchi, Justin Alpert and Rodney Worley Jr. — face felony gambling-related charges in another case filed in February with offenses allegedly occurring between March 1, 2016, and Dec. 31, 2017.

That case is set for trial at 9 a.m. July 1 before Nakamura.

Lance Yamada and 20 LLC, a limited liability company that lists Lance Yamada as the only principal, has an active lawsuit in Hilo Circuit Court naming Police Chief Paul Ferreira and Hawaii County Prosecutors as defendants. Yamada’s lawsuit seeks a court order, among other things, barring the seizure of computers and terminals used to operate games at his establishment.

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No hearings have been held in that suit, which is also before Nakamura.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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