Assaggio owner sentenced to jail time for money launderingUPDATED 7:59 PM HST May 07, 2014Video Transcript
-- for his role in a gambling operation -- that netted HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of dollars. Good evening, I'm Yunji de Nies. And I'm Paula Akana. But a federal judge agreed -- THE GENEROSITY of Thomas Ky -- the founder of Assaggio restaurants -- is what may have gotten him in trouble. KITV4s Lara Yamada was in the packed courtroom -- where EVEN PROSECUTOR S asked for LENIENCY. 01-05 16-20 41-47 CASTAGNOLA 2228-30 Can you understand why he did this? I don't know why he did it. I'm not even going to ask him why he did it. Castagnola -- manager of Ala Moana Assaggio ... Was one of many at federal court today -- watching his long-time friend Thomas Ky -- hear his sentence. ARIVANH 2418-21 Have you had a chance to speak with your dad? Yes. He's dealing with it. Last November, Ky pleaded guilty to ONE Count of Money Laundering. Facing 6 years behind bars. Prosecutors asked for 1. A federal judge dropped it to 6 months in prison and 3 years probation. In February, Ky paid back all of the money he laundered -- 1.3 million -- thanks to shareholders footing the bill -- his attorney says -- in a rare show of support. STEVE 2612-18 I think it's way to harsh for what Thomas did, and what for what Thomas does for the community. Ky moved to the US in 1978, Hawaii in '84, and opened Assaggio in 1989. Over the years opening 5 more -- eventually selling each one to friends and partners. CASTAGNOLA 2047-53 He gave me chances when no one else would, and I'm sorry he got caught up in this and I know he is. Ky's attorney says it was some of Ky's friends, co-workers, who were involved in an online sports gambling ring. One that, over 8 years, managed some 700 MILLION dollars in transactions. Prosecutors believe Ky didn't PERSONALLY profit -- but for several years -- took in the proceeds -- and spit back out HUNDREDS of business checks and bonuses. In court, Ky apologized to his family, friends and loyal customers. Saying he still hopes to help others -- but will now watch -- WHO he helps. ARIVANH 2407-11 Just one day at a time, just take it slowly. CASTAGNOLA 2156-01 It hurts. Of course it hurts, but we're a family so we forgive and we move on. Lara Yamada, KITV News. Ky's attorney says -- 3 others will be sentenced for illegal gambling this month. In all: 27 PEOPLE were convicted -- most got probation. KY is the ONLY ONE -- to recieve a notable mount of jail time.