Honokaa cockfight draws hundreds
A 57-year-old man was arrested Wednesday in connection with an April 2 cockfight raid in Honokaa, according to police.
Jerry Robin Lorenzo of Honokaa was booked on suspicion of 23 counts each of first-degree animal cruelty and second-degree promotion of gambling. He was released without being charged pending further investigation, according to a police log.
First-degree animal cruelty is a Class C felony that carries a maximum sentence of five years of imprisonment upon conviction. Second-degree promotion of gambling is a misdemeanor, and a conviction carries a potential year in jail.
According to Hawaii Police Department spokeswoman Denise Laitinen, Lorenzo’s case is being routed to the office of county Prosecutor Kelden Waltjen.
“I haven’t had the opportunity to look at the case yet,” said Waltjen, who acknowledged that cockfighting cases in the local criminal justice system are rare.
Laitinen said in an email that on April 2, police officers from Area I Vice Section in Hilo and Hamakua patrol officers “broke up a chicken fight in Honokaa on Old Mamalahoa Highway in which more than 500 individuals and approximately 200 vehicles were at the location.”
“There was a designated cockfighting pit area and food vending booths” at the site, Laitinen said.
According to Laitinen, there were 21 dead chickens and two severely injured chickens at the scene.
Laitinen said the injured birds were turned over to county Animal Control, which is administered by the police department, “and the two injured chickens were humanely euthanized due to extensive injuries.”
Asked why Lorenzo was the only individual arrested, Laitinen said that during the course of breaking up the cockfight and the followup investigation, Lorenzo was identified as the promoter of the event.
According to a Tribune-Herald search of pervious stories and media releases by the Hawaii Police Department, the last time a cockfighting arrest ended up with criminal charges on the Big Island was on March 30, 2019, also in Honokaa.
A then-30-year-old Mililani, Oahu, man, Lylle Martinez Salcedo, was charged with two counts of second-degree cruelty to animals, a misdemeanor, after vice officers searched his rental vehicle following a raid and found two injured chickens.
Officers also seized almost $8,000 in cash for forfeiture.
Salcedo pleaded no contest on May 7, 2019, to one count of second-degree cruelty to animals and was fined $500, according to court records.
Prior to that case, five men were arrested after a cockfight in a Pahala macadamia nut orchard was raided on May 29, 2011. According to police, 75 vehicles and about 150 people were at the site.
Officers located 20 dead roosters and recovered injured roosters, rooster boxes, gaffs, paraphernalia related to cockfighting, and gambling records related to cockfighting.
In addition, police seized $7,737 in cash for forfeiture.
Patrick Takahashi, then 31, of Waipahu, Oahu, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of cruelty to animals and possession of gambling records.
Keldon Sakata, then 31, of Pahala was charged with three counts of misdemeanor cruelty to animals and pleaded guilty to a single count.
And Edward Polido, then 51, of Pahala was charged with gambling and possession of gambling records, both misdemeanors. He pleaded guilty to the latter charge.
All three were sentenced to a year of probation.
In addition, Donovan Mattos, then 37, of Naalehu, and Modesto Gonzales, then 69, of Ocean View were each charged with two counts of misdemeanor cruelty to animals.
There is no record of either man’s case going to court.
Email John Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.