18 men in alleged Hawaii prison gang indicted on racketeering chargesUPDATED 6:22 PM HST Sep 24, 2013Video Transcript
ties to the "USO Family"... including several of its leading members. KITV4's Justin Fujioka has our top story. The F-B-I says the criminal organization known as the USO Family was formed by Hawaii inmates at an Oklahoma prison in 1998. Vido Bottom: "OVER THE LAST 15 YEARS, THE USO FAMILY HAS EVOLVED FROM A SMALL ETHNIC PRISON GROUP, TO A FULL-SCALE MODERN URBAN GANG." Hawaii's prisons are home to about 100 USO Family members. Florence Nakakuni: "BUT IT OPERATES BOTH INSIDE AND OUTSIDE OF PRISON. THEY ARE THE DOMINANT PRISON GANG IN HAWAII, AND NATIONALLY, THEY ARE RECOGNIZED AS A MAJOR PRISON GANG." The F-B-I says about 500 members live in the islands with another 300 spread out mostly in prisons in the Southwest. The indictment charges racketeering conspiracy involving fraud, distribution of meth and marijuana, along with bribery against six USO Family members, including the group's Halawa prison leader Opherro Jones and former Halawa adult corrections officer Feso Malufau, according to a source. Another defendant, Robin Lee ... is charged with six counts of making false claims for income tax refunds for four other defendants. Kenneth Hines: "WHAT A PRISON REFUND SCHEME IS, IS WHEN INMATES, ONE OR MORE INMATES GET TOGETHER AND THEY DECIDE TO FILE FALSE TAX RETURNS AND THERE'S A LOT OF DIFFERENT WAYS TO LOOKING INTO TAX RETURNS AS BEING FALSE. THIS WAS FALSE CLAIMS, MOSTLY EITC, WHICH IS EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT." The indictment says these funds were used to run USO Family operations, including bribing prison guards. It also charges 13 men with assault for the purpose of gaining status within the USO Family, including Jones... former Arizona leader William Shinyama and founding member Vaopele Iiga. This investigation began in 2010 when the state's Department of Public Safety contacted the I-R-S and F-B-I. Seven defendants currently at Halawa Correctional Facility made their appearance in Federal Court today ... defendants on the mainland will do the same in the weeks ahead. Trial starts November 26th. Live in the newsroom, Justin Fujioka, KITV4 News.