Mayor Victorino releases statement on federal corruption charges
News Release from Office of the Mayor, Maui County Sept 16, 2022
To clarify confusion arising from Federal felony charges against former Maui County official Stewart Stant and business owner Milton Choy, Mayor Michael Victorino released the following statement today:
“Allow me to be crystal clear. The events that led to corruption charges involving former Maui County official Stewart Stant and Honolulu businessman Milton Choy occurred during the previous administration.
I strongly condemn public corruption in all forms. I am committing my administration to fully cooperate with law enforcement investigators.
Yesterday, I ordered an audit of all no-bid contracts awarded to Mr. Choy's companies both current and past.
Hawaii’s procurement laws ensure fair and transparent handling of government purchases. Whenever corruption undermines the public trust, those responsible must be investigated, prosecuted, and punished to the fullest extent of the law. I cannot, and I will not, tolerate such betrayals of public trust.
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Former Maui Public Official and Honolulu Businessman Charged with Federal Bribery and Honest Services Fraud Offenses
News Release from US DoJ, September 15, 2022
HONOLULU – United States Attorney Clare E. Connors and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Steven Merrill announced that Stewart Olani Stant, 55, a former Maui County public official, and Milton Choy, 60, a Honolulu businessman, have been charged with felony offenses stemming from their operation of a long running bribery scheme. The charges—which were brought in two separate criminal Informations unsealed today—allege that Choy bribed Stant with cash, bank deposits, and gambling trips to Las Vegas in order to receive lucrative sole source contracts from Maui County’s Department of Environmental Management. A court appearance for both defendants is scheduled for Monday, September 19th.
One Information alleges that Stant was a public official employed by Maui County’s Department of Environmental Management (“DEM”), and served as its Director between approximately December 2015 and December 2018. The Information alleges that between October 2012 and December 2018, Stant accepted bribes from Choy comprised of cash, bank deposits, casino chips, travel benefits, and/or other gifts, totaling up to $2,000,000, in exchange for Stant’s agreement, in his official capacity as a Maui County official at DEM, to steer and award over $19 million dollars in sole source contracts and purchase orders to Choy’s company, H2O Processes, LLC. This Information charges that by accepting the bribes to funnel contracts to H2O, and corruptly failing to disclose them, Stant conspired to commit honest services wire fraud and deprived the citizens of Maui County of their right to his honest and conflict free services as a public official.
A second Information charges Choy with corruptly bribing Stant over the same six-year period alleged in the Stant Information. Choy’s Information charges that his bribery of a local official, Stant, violated federal law because the value of the contracts exceeded $5,000 and Maui County received more than $10,000 in federal funding during each of the calendar years of the continuing bribery scheme.
If convicted, Stant faces a sentence of up to 20 years imprisonment, and a fine of up to $250,000. If convicted, Choy faces a sentence of up to 10 years imprisonment, and a fine of up to $250,000. An Information is merely an allegation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The investigation in the case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ken Sorenson, Micah Smith and Michael Albanese of the District of Hawaii are prosecuting the case.