It was revealed today that two ex-Hawaii state legislators acknowledged to receiving payments from a wastewater executive in exchange for sponsoring and overseeing legislation that benefited the executive’s attempts to profit from cesspool conversions and other wastewater policy initiatives.
English and Cullen each admitted their involvement in the scandal that has shaken the California Capitol in separate video sessions before a federal judge in Washington, D.C.
Prior to Senior U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway, Cullen, the former vice-chairman of the state House Committee on Finance, entered a plea of guilty to one felony count of honest services wire fraud for failing to record the purported payments in his computerized legislative gift disclosure report. A money judgment for the bribes he accepted forced him to pay $23,000.
He will also have to pay a one-time fee of $100.
Between September 2014 and Oct. 8, 2021, Cullen allegedly “secretly used his official position to enrich himself by accepting bribes from Person A in exchange for Cullen’s promise of providing, in his official capacity as a member of the State House, legislative support that would be beneficial to Person A’s company,” according to the federal charges. Person A is Milton J. Choy, owner of H20 Process Systems and Fluid Technologies.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Sorenson recounted how Cullen stole $5,000 in cash from a restaurant toilet during an impending congressional session.
Cullen appeared via Zoom with his lawyer, Birney B. Bervar, dressed in a dark suit and blue shirt and tie. He remained silent as Sorenson went over the case’s facts. On the contrary, he said “yes, your honor” to Oki Mollway’s charges that he accepted payments in exchange for legislative favors and didn’t disclose them as presents.
On the 10th of February, Cullen signed his plea deal.
Cullen’s sentencing is scheduled on July 5. He has been released on a $50,000 unsecured bail.
English, a Maui Democrat, pleaded guilty this morning and Cullen followed suit.
For the benefit of Choy’s enterprises, English and Cullen lobbied state lawmakers in 2017 to pass Act 125, which requires the conversion of all cesspools in Hawaii by 2050.
English served as Democratic majority leader, deputy chairman of the Senate Committee on Technology, and member of the Senate Committees on Ways and Means and Transportation at the time when the two former politicians allegedly took bribes.
With the Finance Committee, Cullen was also a member of the House Pandemic, Disaster Preparedness, & Government Reform Committee.
Even after quitting his job as a flight attendant in April, English says he continues to receive twice-weekly COVID-19 treatments. The allegations against Cullen were made public only moments before Cullen resigned on February 8th.
In front of Oki Mollway, English admitted that he had been paid to assist Choy.
According to the criminal paperwork summarizing the accusations against them, Cullen and English did not mention the money and gifts they received in their official gift declaration form.
English pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge on February 11. He has been released on a $50,000 unsecured bail.
Maui’s East and Upcountry Maui, Molokai, Kahoolawe, and Lanai were all represented by Hana; Cullen was chosen to represent the people of Royal Kunia, Waipahu, and Makakilo; both
After pleading guilty to one count of honest services wire fraud, English and Cullen face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
With the agreement of the Justice Department, English must pay $15,305 in fines for stealing cash, meals from Tahiti for Choy’s visitors and hotel rooms in Las Vegas.
In addition, English has assessed a $100 fee.
On Zoom, English showed up dressed in a dark suit and white shirt.
According to Oki Mollway’s charges, English accepted payments in return for the favor, but he didn’t reveal them as Cullen had done before him.
“Guilty, your honor” was English’s response when she inquired about his plea.
After a hearing on July 5, he will be sentenced.
Since at least 2014, the federal investigation against state and county legislators has been focused on claims of public corruption. The guilty bargains are silent on whether or whether English or Cullen gave evidence to DOJ concerning further criminal activities.
Choy provided assistance to the Department of Justice in the prosecution of English and Cullen’s criminal conduct. Meaning he told on people.
Between 2014 and 2021, English and Cullen collected cash, Las Vegas hotel rooms, meals for Tahitian friends, and New Orleans casino chips in return for supporting and killing legislation and giving insider information to assist Choy’s enterprises.
The current members of the state House and Senate have agreed to donate Choy’s campaign contributions to the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission or a criminal justice-related non-profit organization.