WAILUKU - A Kihei man who said he took bets from friends because "it was fun" was placed on five years' probation Thursday for a sports bookmaking operation that investigators said took in 318 wagers totaling $44,290 in a three-week period.
"You either have 318 friends or friends who submitted several wagers," 2nd Circuit Judge Richard Bissen told Richard Oliverio, 54.
"There's no way I collected that kind of money," Oliverio responded. "They had to have doubled them up. I'm not sure how they got that."
After gambling records were seized when police vice officers executed warrants for Oliverio, his residence and his vehicle, the FBI examined the records for college and National Football League betting from Nov. 26 to Dec. 14, 2009, to come up with the betting numbers.
Oliverio had pleaded no contest to possession of gambling records and four counts of first-degree promotion of gambling.
Defense attorney Ben Lowenthal described Oliverio as "a middleman who had basically facilitated sports gambling among his friends."
"This was not a considerable source of his income," Lowenthal said. "This was a pastime for him."
He said Oliverio, who is on disability, has no other criminal convictions in the 13 years he has lived in Hawaii.
Oliverio has convictions in California for battery and inflicting corporal punishment in the 1990s.
Oliverio said he would bet with friends when they would barbecue. "I knew it was against the law," he said. "I didn't know it was anywhere near this serious."
Bissen asked why Oliverio would assume the risk of taking the bets if he didn't get anything in return.
" 'Cause it was fun," Oliverio said.
Bissen said he had trouble believing that Oliverio didn't profit from the operation.
"There's risk and reward in all different types of crimes that are committed," Bissen said. "This is one of the more blatant examples of that. I don't know one person who gambles who's not trying to win money, even the most hard-core gamblers. That's really the rush that they get.
"It's hard to believe you weren't making any money."
Citing the defendant's prior criminal record, Bissen denied Oliverio's request for a chance to keep the gambling convictions off his record.