Eighteen members of what authorities describe as a Hawaii prison gang have been indicted on federal racketeering charges.
A federal grand jury indicted members of the "USO Family," taking several people into custody today, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The indictment describes the USO Family as a dominant prison gang in Hawaii operating both inside and outside the state prison system.
The indictment charged six people with a racketeering conspiracy consisting of multiple acts of fraud, methamphetamine and marijuana distribution, and bribery. They are Charlie Esera, 46; Billy Wond, 38; Opherro Jones, 39; David Kahui, 34; Robin Lee, 52; and Feso Malufau, 54.
Thirteen of the defendants were charged with assaulting three people "for the purpose of gaining entrance to or maintaining or increasing position within the USO Family." Those defendants are James Moser, 24; Paul Togia, 33; Vaofele Iiga, 35; Clarence Butler, 34; Potaufa Ula, 27; Shadrach Unea, 28; Moses Thompson, 34; Daniel Kenolio, 28; Opherro Jones, 39; William Shinyama, 43; Tineimalo Adkins, 33; Akoni Davis, 24; and Travis Nishioka, 24.
Lee is also charged with six counts of making false claims for income tax refunds for four of the other defendants. According to the indictment, the filing of fraudulent tax returns for refunds was a method used by USO Family to fund its operations, including bribing prison guards.
Those indicted face a maimum prison term of 20 years and a fine of up to $250,000 for each of the four racketeering-related counts. The maximum penalties on each of the false claim charges are five years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
Agencies involved in investigating the case were the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service, State of Department of Public Safety, and the Honolulu Police Department.