HONOLULU (KHON2) — Two former state lawmakers pleaded guilty in court on Tuesday. Jamie Kalani English and Ty Cullen admitted to accepting bribes in exchange for legislation that would help a local businessman. His attorney now says that businessman will also face federal charges.
English and Cullen pleaded guilty to Honest Services Wire Fraud, and they told the judge that they accepted bribes of cash and other gifts. In exchange they drafted legislation on cesspool and wastewater policy to help a businessman, referred to in court documents as Person A, who sources have identified as Milton Choy.
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Court records say that included Choy handing English $5,000 while in a car. FBI agents then stopped them and records say English tried to hide the money under the floor mat.
In court on Tuesday, when the judge asked English if he knew that the legislation would help Person A, he said, “The legislation is beneficial to the people of Hawaii…Yes it was helping him but no.”
Lawmakers are also supposed to report any gifts valued at more than $200. When asked why he didn’t report the gifts from Person A, English said, “This didn’t come in to my office, so it wasn’t on the list.”
The attorney for Milton Choy says he will likely be facing federal charges related to this case within the next three months.
“The person that paid those bribes, there’s a reckoning for that, and the public has a right to expect it,” said attorney Michael Green. “I think that the people involved, including my client understands that there’s a penalty to be paid for that.”
He says he doesn’t know if other lawmakers will be implicated through Choy’s cooperation. He’s only aware of English and Cullen.
The state Senate released a statement saying, “Let us be clear – we condemn the actions of former Senator English and former Representative Cullen and will work to ensure that individuals who abuse their positions of power are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
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House Speaker Scott Saiki also sent a statement saying, “Their actions have tainted any legislation they may have worked on, as well as the entire Legislature… I am committed to doing everything in my power… to rebuild integrity and trust in our legislative process.”