Former Hawaii Democrat State Senator, Jamie Kalani English, was convicted of taking bribes to influence legislation while in office and was sentenced to up to 40 months in prison.
English, who also served as the Senate majority leader from November 4, 2014, until his resignation on May 1, 2021, pleaded guilty to wire services fraud earlier this year in February and admitted to accepting illegal money from local business owners. He accepted over $18,000 for ‘shaping legislation’ that would directly benefit a cesspool financing company.
According to the Department Of Justice, “The court [also] received information that on February 24, 2020, English accepted $1,000 from Person A for assistance with cesspool legislation that could directly benefit Person A’s company, telling Person A that he “should formulate what you would like to see” in the bill. On March 11, 2020, Person A met with English and offered him $10,000 in cash to kill the cesspool bill. English accepted the $10,000 stating “it’s easy to kill bills.” Due to the Covid 19 pandemic, the bill did not advance.” A DOJ statement reads
“In January 2021, English accepted another $5,000 from Person A in return for anticipated legislative assistance to Person A. During a subsequent law enforcement traffic stop, English hid the $5,000 under the vehicle’s floor mat. On his annual mandatory gift disclosure report, English failed to report any of the bribes and gifts Person A paid and gave him. As a part of his official gift disclosure submissions, English emailed this false and misleading disclosure form, thereby using interstate commerce,” The DOJ statement adds.
“[English] peddled the power and influence of his position as a Hawaii State Senator and Majority Leader to enrich himself and betray the trust bestowed upon him by those he was elected to serve,” U.S. prosecutors wrote in a memo and recommends up to 3 and a half years in prison.
English is not the only Hawaii Democrat to be convicted of accepting a bribe. Just recently, Former State Representative Ty Cullen also pled guilty to the same charge and is scheduled to be sentenced in October.
English’s attorney is now arguing that his client should only be sentenced up to 2 and a half years in prison and a full year of his sentencing should be pardoned because he allegedly cooperated with the prosecutors after his arrest and honestly admitted to his dealings with the business owner.
The attorney also wrote that “[English] was a compassionate and dedicated advocate for the rural communities and individuals he represented.”
U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway ruled that English will be serving his 40 months sentence in federal prison along with a $100,000 fine and three-year-long supervision after his release.
The state’s Democrat House Speaker Scott Saiki while commenting on this ruling said, “I hope this serves as a message to everyone in government that there can be no tolerance for unethical conduct,”
English will begin his sentence starting August 16th.
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