Saturday, February 3, 2001
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Posted on: Saturday, February 3, 2001

Big Isle postmaster convicted of bookmaking

By David Waite
Advertiser Staff Writer

A federal court jury in Honolulu yesterday found Danita Torres, postmaster for the Big Island community of Kapaau, guilty of helping her husband run a sports bookmaking operation and laundering the proceeds from the illegal 6/5 sports betting operation.

Torres’ attorney, Ira Leitel, had argued during the trial that Torres’ husband, Carlton Torres, had brutalized and threatened her numerous times, intimidating her into helping with the bookmaking scheme.

Steno notebooks filled with names and numbers were found in a kitchen drawer in the Torres home when it was raided Jan. 13, 1998, after months of surveillance, according to testimony during the trial.

Big Island police detective Sam Kawamoto testified on the opening day of the trial that an investigation had been launched after Hawaii County officials learned that Oahu organized crime figures traveled to the Big Island to collect a $25,000 debt owed to Danita and Carlton Torres.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Beverly Wee Sameshima, who prosecuted the case, maintained during the trial that Torres was a willing partner in the bookmaking operation and shared in the profits derived from it.

The jury is scheduled to return to federal court Tuesday to decide whether the couple’s home in the ļinakea subdivision in North Kohala and a Ford Explorer, which the prosecution maintained were used to further the betting operation, should be forfeited to the federal government.

Danita Torres faces up to five years in prison on each of several gambling charges, and 20 years on each of the numerous moneylaundering counts against her. She was originally indicted on approximately 70 counts of alleged wrongdoing.

Carlton Torres is scheduled to go to trial in March on similar charges.

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