Hawaii Island Gambling Ring Leader Sentenced to 20 Months in Prison

Eric Ford
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Eric Ford

BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN – A Hawaii Island resident’s plan to make a profit from his business has landed him behind bars.

Eric Ford, 45, who headed the Aloha Springs Water Company in Kailua-Kona, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Leslie Kobayashi to 20 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to one count of conducting, directing, managing, owning, and supervising an illegal gambling business, and three counts of structuring transactions to evade reporting requirements.


Ford was indicted in 2012 with 7 others including his wife Barbara Ford for operating a massive gambling operation that reportedly involved millions of dollars in wagers on sports betting and card games.

Federal agents raided Ford’s business, home and safe deposit boxes on November 28, 2012.

Ford pleaded guilty to the offenses on February 21, 2013.

Others charged in the case were Marlo Banasan, Matthew Phillips, Kendale Limahai, Robert Bland, Jonah Yardley, Trevor Carter and Barbara Ford. They also pleaded guilty to related charges in a deal with federal prosecutors.

Ford was the manager of the Aloha Springs Water Company, formed in 2007.

According to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office, “Ford took numerous sports bets over the phone and online, collected gambling debts, and paid out gambling winnings.”

“Ford also knew financial institutions are required by law to record cash purchases of money orders and other monetary instruments totaling $3,000 or more.

“To avoid this record keeping requirement, Ford structured the purchase of money orders totaling more than $3,000 by purchasing smaller amounts at multiple institutions. Ford structured more than $120,000 between May 2009 and June 2012.”

An offshore sports betting site called www.wager.dm was used by Ford to facilitate bets, according to the 2012 indictment.

All forms of gambling is illegal in the state of Hawaii.

At his sentencing, the judge called the operation “sophisticated.”

Besides spending 20 months in prison, Ford has forfeited $129,566 in cash, a vehicle, and a Rolex. Other defendants are forfeiting an additional $66,339 in cash and two vehicles.

Hawaii Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation conducted the investigation over four years. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Nammar prosecuted the case.

Over the last several months, the FBI and IRS have teamed up to bust multiple gambling rings in Chinatown and elsewhere.

FBI Special Agent Tom Simon said: “Much of the organized crime activity we see in Hawaii involves illegal gambling operations. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to dismantle these criminal enterprises as they pop up.”





  1. In 2011 alone,the FBI committed 5658 crimes.that amounts to over 15 crimes a day that FBI agents explicitly authorized. wow! and this appears to be standard operating procedure with Dept. of Justice oversight. the FBI agents do everything from buying and selling illegal drugs to bribing gov't. officials to planning robberies! the agency enlists criminals to help them "fight crime". the government must break the law in order to catch and punish the criminals?? where the heck is the rule of law? I hope that Hawaii Reporter will sue the FBI under FOIA(Freedom of Information Act) to find out what the agency has been up to after 2011.and what kind of criminal activity was used to bust illegal gamblers in the Big Island? what a waste of tax payer money. (source:usatoday.com 08/04/2013)

  2. Gambling is not necessarily a bad thing if you know hot to control yourself, but if you don't, then you can get addicted. Many got very rich from gambling. A friend of mine also won a small fortune playing on MegaWin.com and I think I will try it too.

  3. the missionaries came to Hawaii to do good. They ended up doing very well actually. they prayed to God for land.their prayers were answered.

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