An architect was sentenced to a year in prison for paying more than $100,000 in bribes to Honolulu city employees in exchange for expediting approval of his projects.
Five workers were charged in 2021 and accused of taking bribes in exchange for favors, including expediting building permits, in a scandal that prompted the department to overhaul its permitting process. They have since pleaded guilty.
At William Wong’s sentencing in U.S. District Court in Honolulu on Thursday, his lawyer said Wong played a major role in exposing the scandal by cooperating in the investigation, Hawaii News Now reported.
Defense attorney William Harrison said his client’s success in getting projects through the Department of Planning and Permitting raised suspicions and he confessed when questioned by the FBI, the Honolulu news station reported.
“I caved in under pressure,” Wong said in court. “My clients were suffering from the corruption in the system. I truly regret that I participated.”
After the indictments, the department announced changes, including hiring an outside investigator to examine internal controls. Other actions included requiring applications for single-family dwellings to be submitted electronically and exploring the elimination of cash transactions.