By KIM JARRETT
THE CENTER SQUARE ASSOCIATE EDITOR
(The Center Square) — Two former Hawaiian lawmakers will be sentenced July 5 on fraud charges after reaching a plea deal on accusations they accepted thousands of dollars in exchange for their support of certain legislation.
Jamie Kalani English, 55, who formerly served as the Hawaiian Senate majority leader, and Ty J.K. Cullen, 41, who resigned from his state House seat after he was indicted last week, pleaded guilty to one count of honest services wire fraud in the U.S. District Court of Hawaii, according to information from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Hawaii. They face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
Mr. English accepted bribes of $1,000 to support a bill for someone identified as “Person A,” according to the plea agreement. In addition to the $1,000, he also accepted $1,805 for a hotel room and $500 to pay for dinner for his family.
Mr. English accepted $10,000 from “Person A” in March 2020 to stop a piece of legislation from passing and said, “Well it’s easy to kill bills. It’s hard to pass them,” according to the plea agreement.
“Person A” paid Mr. English $5,000 on Jan. 14, 2021. The FBI conducted a traffic stop, and Mr. English tried to hide the money, according to the agreement.
Mr. Cullen also is accused of taking money in exchange for his support of legislation favorable to “Person A,” but it is not clear whether it is the same person as mentioned in English’s plea deal. Mr. Cullen is accused of first accepting casino chips during a visit to New Orleans in September 2014, leading to a $22,000 payout.
From September 2019 to October 2021, Mr. Cullen took three $5,000 payments, a $2,000 payment, a $3,000 payment and a $10,000 payment, according to the plea agreement.
Mr. English resigned from the Senate in May 2021. He had served in the Senate since 2000.
Mr. Cullen, who had been a member of the House since 2011, resigned last week. Gov. David Ige will appoint a successor to Mr. Cullen in April.