Man who defrauded teachers to gamble $1.2M gets 57 months

In this Sept. 24, 2013 file photo, cut stacks of $100 bills make their way down the line at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing Western Currency Facility in Fort Worth, Texas. According to a study released on Tuesday, April 3, 2018, middle-aged Americans who experienced a sudden, large economic blow were more likely to die during the following years than those who didn’t. The heightened danger of death after a devastating loss, which researchers called a “wealth shock,” crossed socio-economic lines, affecting people no matter how much money they had to start. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

A 48-year-old Kona man will spend nearly five years in federal prison and must pay back more than $1.2 million he conned 42 teachers and friends into investing in a fake online lei business to feed his lavish Las Vegas gambling habit.

Newton Kaleo Okamoana Deleon, 48, a former teacher in Southern California who holds a master’s degree, was sentenced to 57 months in prison Wednesday by Senior U.S. District Judge Helen Gillmor.


After he gets out of federal prison, Deleon will be on supervised release for three years, must pay a $200 special assessment and $1,246,850 in restitution. During supervised release, Deleon is banned from gambling and going to Las Vegas unless a federal judge approves the trip.

From at least 2017 and continuing through December 2020, Deleon duped teachers in Hawaii and California and friends to invest between $4,000 and $7,500 at a time.

Deleon fabricated business documents, promissory notes, loan documents, purchase orders for the business and other fraudulent documentation to further his confidence scheme.

He promised to repay a return of profit, ranging from approximately 10% to 40% and additional fees ranging from approximately $100 to $500 per day if the principal and return were not repaid by the agreement’s designated approximate one-month period.

“There is no excuse for my actions,” Deleon told Gillmor, while listing U.S. Bureau of Prison programs that he will enroll in to earn graduate degrees, treat addiction and earn 60 cents an hour toward restitution working in the prison kitchen. “I intend to pay back every cent that I owe, to everyone, for however long it takes.”

Gail Murakami, a teacher, convinced her sister and others to invest in Deleon’s scheme, Murakami fought through tears to tell the court she feels “guilt” for inviting them to Deleon’s plan.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email