Thursday, January 18, 2001
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Posted on: Thursday, January 18, 2001

Postmistress' trial on gaming charges starts

By Walter Wright
Advertiser Staff Writer

Where some keep cookbooks, the federal government says, Danita Torres, the postmistress of Kapaau, Hawaii, kept records of a bookmaking operation that took in more than $170,000.

But Torres’ attorney, Ira Leitel, told a federal jury that whatever Torres did she did because she had been brutalized and threatened by her husband, Carlton Torres.

Danita Torres, who is in charge of the post office at Kapaau, went on trial yesterday on charges of money-laundering and promoting an illegal 6/5 sports betting scam.

Lead-off prosecution witness Detective Sam Kawamoto testified he found three steno notebooks full of numbers and names in a drawer underneath the microwave oven in the kitchen of the Torres home in the ļinakea subdivision in North Kohala when it was searched on Jan. 13, 1998 in a raid following months of surveillance.

The books were offered as evidence of a gambling operation which Assistant U. S. Attorney Beverly Sameshima said Danita Torres helped her husband operate.

Kawamoto said the investigation started over suspicions that Oahu organized crime figures had come to the Big Island to handle a $25,000 debt collection for the couple.

Defense attorney Leitel said Danita Torres divorced Carlton Torres over his brutality, then re-married him for the sake of the children but remained subject to his threats and abuse. Leitel said the intimidation forced Danita Torres to help in the gambling operation.

A separate trial on similar charges against Carlton Torres is scheduled for March.

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