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Halawa inmate pleads guilty to USO conspiracy charges

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A 53-year-old prison inmate said in federal court in Honolulu Wednesday that he filed false federal tax returns to obtain money for the USO Family prison gang to buy drugs and bribe guards at Halawa Correctional Facility.

Robin Lee, 53, pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering conspiracy. After the hearing, he was sent back to the Federal Detention Center.

He faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced Dec. 4. He will also be ordered to pay $353,810 in restitution.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jill Otake told U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren that from 2007 to 2012, Lee conspired with the USO Family to commit tax fraud by filing 297 fraudulent tax returns.

The tax filings resulted in $353,810 in federal payouts. Otake said the money was used to buy drugs and contraband and to bribe guards to smuggle the goods into Halawa prison.

She said Lee also filed two fraudulent tax returns between March 2013 and May 2014, claiming $6,695 in refunds. 

Lee is one of 17 inmates and a former prison guard who were indicted in September on racketeering charges.

Lee’s indictment says the USO Family is the dominant prison gang in Hawaii.

USO, which stands for United Samoan Organization, also means "brother" in Samoan.

Lee’s co-defendant, Akoni Davis, pleaded guilty in February to assaulting a fellow Halawa inmate to join the prison gang. He is scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday afternoon.

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