Man fined, conviction expunged in gambling case

  • RODNEY WORLEY

HILO — A 39-year-old former Honokaa man pleaded no contest Monday to a gambling charge related to a sweep of seven establishments across the Big Island by local and federal authorities on March 1, 2016.

Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura fined Rodney K. Worley Jr. $750 for second-degree promotion of gambling, a misdemeanor, and ordered him to pay a $55 crime victim fee. In exchange for Worley’s plea, prosecutors reduced a first-degree promotion of gambling charge and dropped a possession of gambling records charge, both Class C felonies punishable by up to five years in prison.

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Worley was one of several gambling defendants who appeared Monday on a felony complaint filed by prosecutors Feb. 8.

Brothers Lance and Stacey Yamada plus Glen Haraguchi, April Whiting-Haraguchi and Justin Alpert all agreed to postponements in their cases and were ordered to return to court at 8:30 a.m. Sept. 18. No trial date has been set.

Deputy Prosecutor Sheri Lawson said Worley was working for the Waimea Gaming Center when the raid took place.

“He was under the direct employment of the Haraguchis in the role of … single employee, sole manager …,” Lawson said. “The state feels he is an accomplice, not the primary (defendant) involved in that.”

Worley’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Patrick Munoz said Worley has since moved to Pennsylvania, where he is employed and owns a home.

“Mr. Worley wanted to do this plea agreement because of the financial burden of flying back and forth from Pennsylvania and also just wanting to take responsibility and move forward with his life,” Munoz said.

Worley paid his fine and fee on Monday and Nakamura granted a one-day deferred acceptance of Worley’s no contest plea, which means the conviction has been expunged from his criminal record.

Police said the March 1, 2016, busts in Hilo, Kona, Waimea and Honokaa netted about $150,000 in cash and resulted in the confiscation of 124 gambling machines.

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The Yamadas, who face felony charges in this case, face misdemeanor gambling charges in a separate case with other defendants, including retired Hawaii Police Department Captain Chadwick Fukui. Trial in that case is set for Oct. 7.

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

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