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US Attorney Charges Two Hawaii Democrat Legislators with Accepting Kickbacks

Honolulu, HI – The United States Attorney’s Office District of Hawaii announced Tuesday that it has charged two Hawaii Legislators, Jamie Kalani English and Ty Cullen, with one count of honest services wire fraud and it expects Court appearances for both defendants shortly. 

Photo: Ballotpedia

The defendants are charged with defrauding 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.

English is a former state senator and Senate Majority Leader who served the 7th Senatorial District from approximately 2000 until 2021. The charge alleges that on or before  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.”

Cullen has represented House District 39 since 2013, and serves as Vice-Chair of the House Committee on Finance.

Photo: Ballotpedia

The charge 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 Charge specifically alleges four cash payments totaling $23,000 from September 2019 to March 2020. 

According to United States Attorney Connors: “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.” 

FBI Special Agent I’m Charge Merrill stated: “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,”  If convicted, each defendant faces a sentence of up to 20 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000.

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