Ichioka lost $60M on bet Trump-Biden election would be overturned

Former investor and cryptocurrency millionaire William Ichioka, according to his attorneys, is not a man with an evil heart who set out to rip anyone off. He, unfortunately and literally, placed a bet on Donald Trump and lost.

Aside from his youth and misunderstanding of the investment world, the single largest misstep William Ichioka made was when he lost a $60 million bet that the 2020 election would be overturned in favor of former President Trump. The revelation was made in a recently-unsealed sentencing memorandum filed by his attorneys in federal court in San Francisco. That’s where Mr. Ichioka was charged and convicted in 2023 of several crimes related to his Ponzi scheme that cost his investors and his family a total of $61 million, according to his plea agreement.

That $60 million Mr. Ichioka bet and lost in his election wager following the 2020 Presidential election belonged to his investors. And rather than fess up to the loss, he strung them along on the Ponzi ruse that led to the collapse of Ichioka Ventures, the loss of that money, the federal charges against him, and now his four-year prison sentence for the crimes.

Official portrait of President Donald J. Trump, Friday, October 6, 2017. (Official White House photo by Shealah Craighead)

“The worst part of Mr. Ichioka’s conduct was Mr. Ichioka’s bet of some 1,500 bitcoin on the election being overturned,” his attorneys wrote to the court on January 10, 2024, prior to his sentencing. “At the time of his wagers, these coins had a value of about $50–60 million. Because the coins rose in price dramatically during this time period, had Mr. Ichioka not punted them away, his coins would have been worth over $100 million in May 2021.”

Had Mr. Ichioka won that bet, he may not have had a reason from May 2021 forward to engage in the Ponzi scheme that hurt the people who trusted him and cost him his freedom for four years.

“Instead, after losing these coins, Mr. Ichioka could not fulfill his promised returns to the investors,” his attorneys wrote in the memorandum to the court. “Mr. Ichioka was not strong enough to tell the investors that their money was lost and otherwise come clean. Instead, he resorted to deception and dissembling, including continuing to advertise the supposed principal and profit in each investor’s account on his website. Mr. Ichioka now recognizes that his youth and hubris contributed to a rash of inexcusable decisions.”

“I truly understand the severity of my current situation and the magnitude of harm that my crimes have caused others,” Mr. Ichioka wrote to the court ahead of his sentencing. “I hurt so much everyday thinking of all the pain and difficulties I am responsible for but I know that all the people involved are hurting even more. Majority of these people are my family and dearest friends, the closest people in my life. l know each of their personal lives and situations and it absolutely breaks my heart to know that my irresponsible and selfish decisions and actions have put a burden on their lives. As to my parents, who also trusted me, all I wanted to do was make them proud and show them how grateful I am for all the love and support they have continuously given me throughout my life. But instead I’ve disgraced myself and also dragged our family’s name and reputation down with me.”

Mr. Ichioka’s family owns and runs the Guam Plaza Hotel and several other companies on Guam and in Hawaii.

He told the federal judge his parents are modest and conservative people and “not at all responsible for the errant path that I eventually went down.”

This is what Mr. Ichioka described to the judge what happened following the Trump-Biden election in 2020:

William Ichioka

“I have never followed politics nor have I ever voted prior. But I believed at the time that I saw irrefutable systemic election fraud and by listening to Trump and his people, and all of their activity and efforts, it perpetuated my thesis. I genuinely believed that even after Biden was inaugurated as President in January 2021, that the 2020 election results would still be overturned and Trump would be reinstated as President. I frantically went around trying to make private wagers and looking for opposing bettors, thinking that I had an opportunity to be ahead of the news and a lot of money for my investors and myself. So much so that l was pulling money out of profitable investments to fund this reckless venture. Between November 2020 and June 2021, I bet about 1,500 bitcoins. Whether I won or lost my bets on Trnmp overturning the election the wagers would be determined at the end of 2021 at the earliest and some were even open to before the next election in 2024. I deludedly kept my hopes alive and never accepted or admitted to my self of losing until after the government search warrant happened towards the end of 2021. I wrongfully did not disclose the loss and amount to my investors and it was especially wrong to use the funds on these wagers no matter how strongly I believed in them at the time.”

Mr. Ichioka, in his letter, went on to describe his feeling of foolishness for his hubris, his contempt for his selfishness, his regret for the harm it caused others, and his full acceptance of responsibility.

His sentiments matched the letters of support several of his friends wrote to the judge about him.

“Every one of our mutual friends believe he has integrity and is also a genuinely nice person,” Greg Nguyen wrote to the judge about Mr. Ichioka. “William is human. Has he made a bad business decision, or an unwise trade? Perhaps–financial markets are precarious and fragile. Safe haven assets like US Treasury bonds have declined 60% from their peak, for example. But has William ever had the intention of harming anyone? No. He doesn’t have it in his character to do so.”

“He hardly ever went out to any parties, and always kept himself busy with a daily routine,” another friend, whose name is not legible, wrote in a letter to the judge. “One of his routine tasks was volunteering at a homeless shelter, and one of them I specifically remember was at the Raphael House. He would take the Muni bus through the city once or twice a week and help families with everything from preparing meals to reading bedtime stories for the children.”

Even Mr. Ichioka’s Lyft driver, Justin Deppe, wrote to the judge in support of the man who had patronized his business since 2017. He described to the judge how the two became friends and the way Mr. Ichioka would welcome Mr. Deppe and make him feel at home among Ichioka’s peers.

“I… have a 13 year old son that is autistic and Will is the only name of any of my friends that he remembers,” Mr. Deppe wrote. “Will is so compassionate towards him and my son absolutely adores him. I truly believe that this says magnitudes about Will’s character and personality. He is a genuine and sincere person and I am thankful to call him a friend and I know I can always count on him.”

“I’m so sorry for the trouble that I’ve caused,” Mr. Ichioka told the judge. “Words can’t even express how truly sorry I am. I now have daily uncontrolled flooding thoughts of guilt and shame. And there’s many things that I regret and I just wish so badly that I could go back and do things over and my life could’ve been a complete opposite trajectory from where it is now. But I can’t, and it just kills me every time I think about it. All I can do is atone and work my hardest to rewrite each wrong. And I know that it will never truly make things right, but I’m truly doing everything I can to make things right and I will continue with all my power to do so until everyone is satisfied. And I don’t merely mean monetary. There are broken relationships, trust issues, and emotional damage that I have to make amends for. And that’s all I want to do.”

According to Mr. Ichioka, he has “lost everything,” and will never behave this way again. According to his prior settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, he also is barred for life from managing money for anyone as a business.”

“I just want to live a quiet, modest and wholesome life and cherish time with my loved ones and start a family of my own and help with the family business,” he told the judge. “My family has been beyond gracious and loving and supportive. So much more than I deserve and I want to do everything that I selflessly can to show them how much I truly love them and appreciate everything they have done and continue to do for me.”

“I know that there are no shortcuts for honest hard work,” he said.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California, the federal court sentenced Mr. Ichioka after considering all factors to four years in federal prison and to pay a $5 million fine. According to several of the court documents in his docket, Mr. Ichioka’s family is working to pay restitution to his victims.

“He has dedicated his life to repenting for his sins, repaying victims, and working to improve his character,” his attorneys wrote in his sentencing memorandum to the court. “[T]his is not a case of a person with an evil heart.


  • Imelda Tanapino

      01/28/2024 at 2:07 AM

    He was just doing what he learned to do growing up as a child on Guam – lie, be greedy, steal, be dishonest, pretend to repent.

    Fortunately a non-paree, non-Gumanian judge didn’t believe him and gave him (light) punishment.

    Hopefully he’ll pay restitution to the people he stole from before he pays restitution to his family.

    • Greedy son of beach, let him rode in jail, his just saying sorry cause he get caught. Good for him.

  • Jajagabore

      03/16/2024 at 5:05 AM

    This article is the biggest crock of shit and I have text messages from Will himself. He’s about the furthest from a nice honest guy as it gets. This article is offensive for those of us in his wake of destruction.

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