Their trial is scheduled to begin in January.

Six Honolulu residents were arrested on federal charges for conspiracy and the operation of an illegal gambling business, according to a U.S. Department of Justice press release.

On Wednesday, defendants Edward Caspino, 46, William Caspino, 48, Lavern Joseph, 71, and Kerilyn Keliinoi, 31, appeared in court on these charges and pleaded not guilty. 

Defendants Fauston Aragon Jr., 65, and Howard Unebasami, 80, were expected to issue their pleas in court in the coming days. All of the defendants live in Waianae except for Aragon, who lives in Pearl City. 

The defendants were accused of hosting an illegal gambling business in Waianae between June 2020 and March.

“The group allegedly hosted multiple, large-scale chicken fights, called ‘derbies,’” according to the press release. Gambling allegedly took place with these derbies, as well as with other “unlawful games of chance” on the property, says the press release. 

Edward Caspino also was being charged with a third count: operating illegal game rooms

Each of these three counts would for each defendant entail a fine of up to $250,000 and up to five years in prison, as well as up to three years of supervised release. 

Earlier this year, a shooting at a Waianae cockfight killed two people and injured three others, calling into question law enforcement’s seemingly lax stance on the issue. Despite being illegal, many Honolulu residents – including some politicians – see cockfighting as an often-benign cultural and community event

Edward Caspino also was charged with three separate counts of distributing at least 50 grams of methamphetamine, for which he appeared in court on Wednesday. Each of these counts entails a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison, as well as a fine of up to $10 million

“The charges are the result of a joint investigation conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Department of Homeland Security – Homeland Security Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Coast Guard Investigative Service,” according to the press release. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael F. Albanese is prosecuting the cases.  

Trial for the conspiracy and gambling business charges is set to begin Jan. 17.

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