Who Will Cullen and English Rat Out?
by Andrew Walden
In the federal system the little fish eats the big fish.
Former cocaine dealer and State Senator J Kalani ‘Powdernose’ English and State Rep Ty Cullen will both soon be pleading guilty to Honest Services Fraud, while avoiding the much more serious charge of bribery.
KHON, February 10, 2022, reports: "English and Cullen plan to plead guilty, fully cooperate with feds."
Obviously the question is: What fish is big enough to buy a Senator and Representative leniency?
The question now is whether their cooperation will lead to others being charged with a crime….
Federal investigators said English and Cullen took bribes with a combined total of more than $40,000 in cash as well as Las Vegas hotel rooms and chips from a casino in New Orleans. They were never arrested and were charged by information, which legal experts say usually means they’ve been cooperating with prosecutors.
“They’re providing historical information to provide government data and facts regarding the charges that they’re facing, or they have set up colleagues, either other legislators, or city council people, or other lawmakers,” said defense attorney Megan Kau, who is not involved in the case….
Local media are not naming H2O Process Systems co-owner, Milton Choy, as the unnamed ‘Person A’ from the US DoJ criminal ‘Information’ for English and Cullen.
But the descriptions fit.
In cooperation with Federal authorities, ‘Person A’ allegedly paid cash bribes to Cullen and English in exchange for steering wastewater related bills. Logically, the Feds had ‘Person A’ on something else and used it to turn him.
(UPDATE: After we published this article, other Hawaii media began acknowledging Choy is 'Person A'.)
Now it is Cullen and English’s turn to turn.
Once H2O is identified, a list of potential ‘Big Fish’ emerges from records of company-related campaign contributions.
(Choy also manages the Hawaii branch of Tyco Engineered Products and is related to owners of Fluid Technologies. Tyco and Fluid offer commission-based representation of brand-name products and services in government bidding.)
PDF: State campaign contributions from persons affiliated with H2O, Tyco Engineered Products, and Fluid Technologies
LINK: Milton Choy Federal Contributions
At the top of the list: Rep Kai Kahele, Governors David Ige and Neil Abercrombie and Honolulu Mayors Kirk Caldwell and Rick Blangiardi.
Maybe the Feds will mop up some of the Senate incumbents whose campaign contributions equal or exceed those given to Cullen and English.
House Speaker Scott Saiki is not on the list. He tells HNN, “I’m not sure how much worse it can get.”
Here’s how Hawaii News Now describes Person A and his companies:
according to its website, the local industrial cleaning company has received several government contracts. That includes a $1 million job to sanitize Oahu’s buses.
A September, 2020, accounting of Honolulu CARES expenditures includes this item on page 18:
03/23/20 H2O Process Systems, LLC $2,615,700.00 Governor's Emergency Proc. 3/5/2020 for COVID-19; cleaning and disinfectants for the Handi-van and TheBus; Amendment No. 1 increased services to November 30, 2020 and increased cost from 1,485,700 to 2,615,700 DTS
HPR, August 10, 2021, reports: “TheBus Spent $3M on Sanitization Efforts.”
H2O, Choy, and company give lots of campaign contributions. HNN continues:
State campaign spending records show that since 2014, company employees and officers, its owner and his relatives and related businesses and their workers have donated nearly $300,000 to more than 50 political candidates in Hawaii….
The political donations included $19,000 to former Maui state Sen. J. Kalani English and $11,000 to former Waipahu state Rep.Ty Cullen ― who were both charged on Tuesday with taking bribes from the owner’s company. Both will plead guilty next week….
Are these campaign contributions a trail of breadcrumbs?
Campaign finance experts said the access company officials received from their political donations likely provided them with the opportunity to bribe the lawmakers.
“It opens the doors ― you are now in their social circles. You are considered a trusted ally,” said retired judge and former prosecutor Randal Lee.
“Therefore the elected officials will let you in and you’ll have more freer access to the elected official.”
Civil Beat, June 8, 2020, points out:
the company, H2O Process Systems, got the contract without having to go through the usual competitive bidding process because the law governing purchases for government agencies was suspended as part of Gov. David Ige’s emergency proclamation.
The suspension is meant to help those agencies quickly react to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the cleaning contract also raises questions. H2O Process System’s owner, Milton Choy, has been a prolific political donor to Hawaii’s mayors, governors and lawmakers.
He’s given more than $118,000 to about 40 campaigns since 2014, a review of campaign finance records show….
Another H2O Process Systems crew traveled to Hana and parts of Molokai in late April to perform similar cleanings. The cleanings cost a total $26,202, according to an emailed statement from Brian Perry, a Maui County spokesman.
Typically, a contract worth that amount would require an agency to get a minimum of three quotes as a requirement under Hawaii’s procurement law….
The county previously said the cleanings would cost between $4,000 and $6,000, but Perry said the work was expanded to cover additional offices and buses.
In addition to the sprayings on Oahu and Maui County, the company also provides hand sanitizer dispensers at state airports, according to the H2O Process Systems website….
In the past six years, Choy has made donations to the campaigns of more than 40 elected officials. They include Govs. David Ige and Neil Abercrombie, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and Maui County Mayor Mike Victorino, and numerous members of county councils in Honolulu, Hawaii County and Maui County and to candidates for the Legislature.
Choy is also listed in campaign finance records as a president or manager for two other companies, Tyco Engineered Products and Services and Fluid Technologies.
All told, Choy and his employees at those three companies have donated just over $200,000 to various campaigns since 2014.
Some of the top recipients of those donations include Ige ($33,000), Abercrombie ($25,000), Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English ($14,000), House Finance Chair Sylvia Luke ($12,800), former Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui ($11,500) and Senate President Ron Kouchi ($8,000)….
In 2018, it got a $93,000 contract to deliver a diesel pump package to the Maui County Department of Environmental Management, Wastewater Reclamation Division. It also furnished a filtration system for the Wailuku-Kahului Wastewater Reclamation Facility in 2018 at a cost of $3.5 million.
The company also had a $750,000 contract in May to deliver a similar system to a wastewater plant in Wailua on Kauai.
Of course, Cullen and English may be able to rat out criminal politicians engaged in a completely unrelated conspiracy.