Hawaii News Former Honolulu planning commissioner owns Palolo site of 3 gambling raids By Peter Boylan firstname.lastname@example.org March 5, 2022 Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! A commercial property in Palolo owned by a former member of the Honolulu Planning Commission has been raided three times by Narcotics/Vice officers in the past 17 months as police try to permanently shut down the illegal gambling den. Read more Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser! You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription. Subscribe Now Read this story for free: Watch an ad or complete a survey Log In Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story. Activate Digital Account Print subscriber but without online access? Activate your Digital Account now. A commercial property in Palolo owned by a former member of the Honolulu Planning Commission has been raided three times by Narcotics/Vice officers in the past 17 months as police try to permanently shut down the illegal gambling den. Gambling search warrants were executed at Gifford K.F. Chang’s 1720 Palolo Ave. property on Sept. 16, 2020; May 12; and Feb. 23. In the latest raid, police seized more than 20 gambling machines, ammunition, drug paraphernalia and cash. Honolulu resident Bang Cong Nguyen, 53, was arrested Feb. 23 on suspicion of promoting gambling and possession of a gambling device. The search warrant was executed at Chang’s building at 1720 Palolo Ave. by HPD’s Narcotics/Vice Division, Specialized Services Division, and District 7 Crime Reduction Unit, according to police. Chang served on the city Planning Commission from March 2017 until he decided not to seek reappointment in September 2021. Nuisance abatement letters were sent to Chang after the first two raids, and a nuisance abatement letter is being prepared for the third search warrant, executed Feb. 23, HPD Maj. Phillip Johnson told the Star-Advertiser in a statement. After executing a warrant at a game room, police serve the property owner with a notice that they are subject to HRS 712-1271, which allows the state attorney general, county prosecutors or a private citizen to file a lawsuit seeking an end to the activity and abatement of the nuisance. “Executing search warrants at the same locations takes resources away from other, new locations. While it’s frustrating for our officers, the greater impact is on the neighborhoods that have these illegal operations, and that’s where the civil nuisance abatement law comes in,” said Johnson. “Neighbors shouldn’t have to live with the crime and other problems associated with game rooms.” It is not clear what the outcome of the nuisance abatement proceedings against Chang are. The Palolo property’s 2021 property tax bill was paid in full, according to city land-use records. HPD has initiated 71 nuisance abatement cases since 2018. Of those, 31 were investigated, conferred, closed and referred to the prosecutor’s office for action. The remaining cases are either ongoing investigations or pending referral for various reasons, such as the permanent closure of the game room or “the property owner can’t be found or has died,” said Johnson. Chang, a licensed real estate agent and broker, did not immediately respond to an email and a message left at one of his businesses, Ideal Properties Inc. Prior to joining the city Planning Commission, Chang was acquitted of federal charges that he illegally imported some of the seized fireworks that exploded and killed five men in a Waikele storage bunker in 2011. A federal court jury found Chang, then 45, not guilty of charges of smuggling, importing explosive materials without a license and attempting to import explosives by falsifying statements. He was facing up to 20 years in prison on the smuggling count, up to 10 years for importing explosives without a license and two years for making false statements to federal investigators. On any given day there are 50 to 80 illegal game rooms operating on Oahu, according to police. From Jan. 1 through Oct. 22, 2021, HPD shut down 45 illegal game rooms and seized 641 gaming machines, surpassing the 37 search warrants executed in 2020. Previous Story Marines activate first littoral regiment Next Story Kokua Line: Can I modify car ownership by mail?