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Wednesday, February 9, 2022
Feds Bust Two Legislators in Cesspool Bribery Scheme
By News Release @ 12:09 AM :: 2837 Views :: Ethics, Hawaii State Government

Two Hawaii Legislators Charged with Honest Services Fraud

News Release from US DoJ, Feb 8, 2022

HONOLULU – United States Attorney Clare E. Connors and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Steven Merrill announced that the United States Attorney today filed separate informations charging Jamie Kalani English, age 54, and Ty Cullen, age 41, each with one count of honest services wire fraud. Court appearances for both defendants are expected shortly.

Both informations allege that the defendants defrauded the citizens of the State of Hawaii of their right to honest and faithful services as elected legislators through bribery and concealment of material information. According to one of the informations, English is a former state senator and Senate Majority Leader who served the 7th Senatorial District (Hana, East and Upcountry Maui, Molokai, Lanai, and Kahoolawe) from approximately 2000 until 2021. This information alleges that beginning at an unknown date, but at least by 2015, English received benefits such as cash, hotel rooms and other bribes to take official action that would benefit the person providing the bribes. In one instance involving the 2020 state legislative session, English agreed to introduce a bill and also to kill bills in exchange for cash. The gifts and benefits English received totaled in excess of $18,800, which he also failed to report during the applicable reporting period.

Cullen’s information states that he has represented House District 39 (Village Park, Royal Kunia, Waipahu, Makakilo, and West Loch) since 2013, and serves as Vice Chair of the House Committee on Finance. The information alleges that beginning in 2014, Cullen accepted benefits and gifts such as casino chips and cash intended to influence his official actions as a legislator. The information specifically alleges four cash payments totaling $23,000 from September 2019 to March 2020.

United States Attorney Connors said: “Ensuring that government officials provide services free of corrupt practices that violate federal law is a critical priority. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute government officials who use their positions for illegal enrichment.”

“The FBI makes corruption investigations a priority in Hawaii and will pursue alleged corruption by public officials such as Mr. English and Mr. Cullen to the fullest extent of the law,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Merrill. “Today’s charges demonstrate the FBI’s commitment to protect the public’s trust through these types of investigations.”

If convicted, each defendant faces a sentence of up to 20 years imprisonment, and a fine of up to $250,000. An information is merely an allegation and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The case was investigated by the FBI. Assistant United States Attorneys Kenneth Sorenson, Micah Smith, and Michael Albanese are prosecuting the case.

---30---

PDF: Charging Document – Former state Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English

PDF: State Rep. Ty J.K. Cullen complaint

COVERAGE:

SA: Person A is cooperating with DOJ’s ongoing investigation, according to sources, and owns and operates businesses that have done work in every county….

on Jan. 14, 2021, Person A allegedly handed English an envelope and told him while they sat in a car in Kakaako, “That’s money for you. $5,000.” Person A thanked English for “all his support” and told him what they needed, according to the court filing.

“English then placed the $5,000 in currency into his back pocket and told Person A, ‘I can definitely use that right now. All the mortgages have become due,’” he said, according to court documents.

FBI agents monitoring the interaction pulled over Person A and witnessed English trying to “hide $5,000 under the front floor mat of Person A’s vehicle,” according to the charging document….

In April, English, a Democrat, stepped down from his Senate seat, citing lingering symptoms from a COVID-19 infection….

SA: “At 1:02 p.m. today, Representative Cullen submitted his resignation from the House of Representatives effective immediately. The Hawaii Democratic Party will now need to begin the process of nominating a replacement for Representative Cullen.”

CB: J. Kalani English and Ty Cullen are accused of accepting thousands of dollars to alter the course of certain measures in 2020.  

KHON: Always Investigating followed where the feds say the money went. Authorities allege someone called “Person A” wanted then-Sen. Kalani English and Rep. Ty Cullen to spur and then spurn legislation that would have supported cesspool conversions. We checked past legislative sessions saw bill after bill on the topic move along then hit a wall. Now, advocates say, it’s making a little more sense why something so important fizzled time and again at the Capitol.

KHON:   Governor to appoint representative to fill House District 39 seat

KHON: Ward said, “This is the biggest bombshell to hit the State Legislature in decades.”

HNN: Prosecutors say Cullen took more than $23,000 from an “industrial services contractor” in exchange for legislative actions, while English took more than $18,000 from an identified businessperson.  

AP: Prosecutors: 2 Hawaii lawmakers took bribes to steer bills

KHON: Hotels, casino chips and other bribes: U.S. Attorney charges 2 Hawaii legislators with honest services wire fraud  

MN: Former Maui state lawmaker charged for taking bribes

Background:

April 27, 2021: Sen J Kalani 'Powdernose' English Resigns--Ige to Appoint Replacement

2018: Senate Majority Leader (and convicted cocaine dealer) J. Kalani ‘Powdernose’ English of Maui had eight absences this year. He racked up 12 absences last year…

2017: Hawaii Lawmaker Accepted Junket From Turkish Opposition Group

2016: Former Cocaine Dealer seeks Marijuana License: Unwarranted advantages, self-dealing, favoritism, and undue influence

2010: Former cocaine dealer J Kalani English: Bought and paid for by Hawaii Air Ambulance

2005: English lied to Maui Council about Drug Dealing

1996: Jamie "Kalani" English, now 30, was indicted by an Oahu grand jury on April 20, 1988, on a charge of promoting a dangerous drug in the third degree. He was arrested on the charge May 4, 1988, according to court records.

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