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Two Hawaii Legislators Charged with Honest Services Fraud

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The FINANCIAL — 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.

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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.

 

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