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Gaming debt was trigger in fatal beating

Four men linked to a Chinatown gambling room are accused of killing 42-year-old Duc Pham

By Nelson Daranciang

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 03:58 p.m. HST, Apr 12, 2011


Duc Pham was on his knees in a Chinatown gambling room, begging his attackers for forgiveness before he was beaten unconscious, one of the alleged assailants told police.

Four men were arrested and charged with murder in Pham's death on April 2 and faced the charges in court for the first time yesterday. Bail for each is $1 million.

Charged with murder are Maauga Imoa, 24; Alexander Nguyen, 31; Manu Tonga, 21; and Sione Vulangi, 26.

Police said Tonga, Imoa and Vulangi said they and Nguyen beat Pham, 42, because they believed he stole money from the illegal gambling house where he worked.

Police said witnesses told them the four defendants work as security or doormen or are otherwise connected with the illegal gambling room on Mau­na­kea Street and had been looking for Pham since at least March 31.

One witness told police Vulangi found Pham at a Kinau Street gambling room on April 1 and heard Vulangi ask Pham, "Where's the money?"

Vulangi told police he slapped Pham, causing his nose to bleed, then took him to the Mau­na­kea Street gambling room. There he and the three other defendants beat Pham, a police affidavit said.

Tonga, Imoa and Vulangi told police they each slapped and punched Pham in the head multiple times but that it was Nguyen who punched and kicked him in the head and hit Pham twice on the head with a heavy chain.

Imoa told police they continued to beat Pham as he begged for forgiveness and stopped when Pham lost consciousness. Imoa said he and Tonga took Pham to the Queen's Medical Center several hours later when he began to foam at the mouth.

Tonga told police he found Pham, whom he knew as Billy, in the parking lot of Moana­lua Community Park.

A doctor at Queen's pronounced Pham dead on April 2. Pham was unresponsive and bleeding from the back of his head, police said. He also had major swelling and bruising to his face, and both of his eyes were swollen shut.

The Honolulu Medical Examiner said Pham died of blunt force injuries to his head.

Police said they searched the Mau­na­kea Street gambling house Thursday and found a significant amount of blood on the walls and floor.






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