‘Compulsive gambler’ asks for 30-month federal sentence

A Kona man who bilked 45 investors in his online lei business out of $1.2 million to fuel a high-stakes gambling habit in Las Vegas is asking a federal judge to sentence him Wednesday to 2-1/2 years in prison.

Newton Kaleo Okamoana Deleon, 48, is a “compulsive gambler,” and his habit led him “down a path of destruction” that cost him his career as an educator, his marriage and a relationship with his three children, his attorney, Michael Green, wrote in a sentencing memorandum filed April 30.


From at least 2017 and continuing through December 2020, Deleon used money from his investors to pay for his wagering addiction.

When he was up big, Deleon wrote to senior U.S. District Judge Hellen Gillmor that he “lived a whole month in the Penthouse suite at the Bellagio. I was gambling everyday. I’d lose, then I’d get more money (through the fraudulent activity associated with the case) and I went on this crazy streak. At one point, I was up $600,000 in two days. … I bought two Rolexes and two cars, a Chevy Tahoe and a Chevy Traverse … and in less than 24 hours I lost all the money. I had to go back to the dealer to return my car.”

His gambling got so severe that at one point Deleon was “living in his car with no money for shelter.” After losing $300,000 in Las Vegas in 2020, Deleon wrapped the cord of a blow dryer around his neck and tried to kill himself.

Green also asked that Deleon be required to undergo treatment for addiction.

Deleon was on supervised release in California where he lived before sentencing, but has been in custody since Jan. 22 at the Metropolitan Detention Center, Los Angeles.

Deleon was allegedly arrested Jan. 22 in Santa Ana, Calif., “for an offense in violation of federal, state, or local law while on pretrial release, in violation of the standard conditions of pretrial release,” according to federal court records.

Deleon was arrested following a fight with his fiancee, which Deleon described as a “loud verbal argument” in a letter to Gillmor.

Prior to his arrest, Deleon, who earned undergraduate and master’s degrees, was working for the Vista Unified School District in North San Diego providing online classes to students enrolled in Advanced Placement biology and AP environmental science courses.

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