HONOLULU (KHON2) — The FBI is investigating allegations of bribery involving five employees at the Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP), and a Honolulu architect.
The indictments said the workers were paid off by companies to fast-track their plans.
On the go with KHON 2GO, KHON’s morning podcast, every morning at 8
The allegations involved current and former DPP employees. The former building plans examiner, Wayne Inouye, is accused of taking the largest sum of money.
Federal investigators said he accepted more than $100,000 in bribes and gifts from three separate contractors and an architect over the course of several years.
Also indicted is another former building plans examiner, Jennie Javonillo, and three current DPP employees.
They include DPP Building Inspector Jason Dadez, Data Access and Imaging Branch staffer Jocelyn Godoy and building plans examiner Kanani Padeken. The Honolulu architect indicted is William Wong.
The communications director for Mayor Rick Blangiardi said the employees were placed on paid leave.
Attorney Megan Kau is representing a client who is cooperating with the government investigation.
Her client paid more than $100,000 to get permits fast-tracked.
Kau said, “They would say, ‘Hey pay me to put your permit above everybody and if you don’t, you’re going to be waiting a year, a year and a half.'”
Kau said, it takes two parties for these pay-to-play accusations but the burden lies on the culture of the DPP.
“It’s not like people in the department did not know this was happening,” Kau said. “I think this was just overlooked and I think people just turned the other cheek. Now that the federal government has gotten involved, people are going to start paying attention.”
The City said in a statement:
“The department is disappointed by today’s events and we certainly do not condone the activities alleged in the indictments. These alleged activities should not reflect on the more than 200 dedicated DPP employees who work hard every day to ensure the health and safety of the citizens of Honolulu. We will decline further comment because of the ongoing investigation.”
A locally owned building contractor tells KHON2, they hope the department revamps its permitting process. They have no way to tell clients how long permitting could take, sometimes it is months, others more than a year, regardless of the size of the project.
Inouye, Javonillo and Godoy will have a telephone hearing on Wednesday, March 31. No court hearing set for the rest of the accused.