State Watch

Hawaii legislators admit to taking bribes, face up to 20 years in prison

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Two former Hawaii state lawmakers face 20-year prison sentences after pleading guilty to taking bribes in exchange for shaping legislation, The Associated Press reported.  

Former state Rep. Ty Cullen (D) and former state Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English (D) are accused of taking bribes in exchange for shaping legislation that would benefit a company involved with publicly financed cesspool conversion projects. 

English, who retired from his position last May while suffering from long-term effects of COVID-19, told Judge Susan Oki Mollway that he believed the legislation he was shaping would be beneficial to state residents and the business owner. 

English was also a member of the Cesspool Conversion Working Group, where he complied with the business owner’s request for a copy of the draft report, according to the AP.

“It helped two sides,” English said in his hearing.

Prosecutors also said English received bribes from envelopes of cash and Las Vegas hotel rooms, the AP reported.

According to court documents, Cullen also received New Orleans casino chips as bribes from business owners while they attended a wastewater conference. 

This comes as Cullen resigned from his position last week before prosecutors announced the charges against him and English. 

In part of their plea agreement, English and Cullen agreed to forfeit a total of $38,000, representing the amounts of cash they received, the AP reported. 

“Their actions are not reflective of the values and standards that we strive to uphold as public officials,” Hawaii’s Senate said in a statement. “The Senate will continue to take the necessary actions to increase transparency, combat corruption and expand ethics training to all members and staff.”

Both former lawmakers are expected to be sentenced on July 5, the AP noted.

Tags bribery charges Hawaii
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