- Associated Press - Friday, October 10, 2014

HONOLULU (AP) - Honolulu prosecutors want a case against nine men indicted on gambling charges for game room machines dismissed.

A judge granted the dismissal late Thursday, about a week after defense attorneys alleged prosecutorial misconduct. The attorneys alleged the prosecution presented false evidence and wrong information.

According to the dismissal motion, prosecutors want to correct “deficiencies” in the case and have identified evidence implicating additional defendants. They plan to seek a new indictment. The deficiencies “were not a result of intentional prosecutorial misconduct,” said the motion submitted by Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jacob Delaplane.

Victor Bakke, who represents one of the men, said the defense will push to have the case dismissed without any ability to refile charges. “I think it’s outrageous because we were just in court two days ago and the prosecutor was asking for more time to respond to our motion,” he said Friday. “They were just trying to buy time to correct their mistakes.” He said it’s rare for a judge to throw out a grand jury indictment.

The grand jury indictment earlier this year came after a federal judge ruled that people who use Products Direct Sweepstakes machines are gambling. Prosecutors say machines allowing players to bet on games of chance with the opportunity to win cash rewards constitute gambling, which is illegal in Hawaii.

The federal ruling stemmed from a civil lawsuit against the city after police seized machines from game rooms.

The dismissal calls into question the credibility of Katherine Kealoha, who was previously handling the case, Bakke said. She’s married to Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha. According to her declaration filed with the dismissal motion, she’s been on indefinite personal leave since Sept. 23.

“Why (Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro) would put the chief’s wife in charge of the investigation where her husband is the main defendant in the civil lawsuit makes absolutely no sense,” Bakke said.

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Follow Jennifer Sinco Kelleher at https://www.twitter.com/JenHapa .

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