At his sentencing in federal court on July 5th former state Sen. J. Kalani English learned how much time he will spend behind bars. English arrived in court expecting a lighter sentence. His lawyer asked for 30 months. While the prosecutor wanted a harsher sentence – to send a message that elected officials who accept bribes will be severely prosecuted.
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“This was not just any elected official, but the majority leader of the Hawaii State Senate with a lot of position to bargain, peddle, and sell. So having an individual like him on the other end of the bribes was incredibly damaging,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth Sorenson.
English has pleaded guilty to wire fraud for failing to report the money and gifts he was given in exchange for his efforts to kill a cesspool bill.
“He was incredibly easy about accepting bribes, taking money. Many times it was his idea. He was not shy about taking money and performing favors for that money,” added Sorenson.
Judge Susan Mollway declared that when English took the bribes, “He was not under duress. He was not in need. This was a matter of greed.”
Before the judge, English said he was deeply remorseful and sad for his actions, but could not explain why he did it. He was given a sentence of 40 months in federal prison.
“This is a stain on Hawaii, on the Legislature and Hawaii politics,” said Sandy Ma, executive director of Common Cause Hawaii. Read more