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Former state Rep. Ty Cullen gets new sentencing date in cesspool bribery case

Ty Cullen
Hawaiʻi House of Representatives
Now-former state Rep. Ty Cullen at a Finance Committee meeting.

HONOLULU — A judge has set a new sentencing date for former state Rep. Ty Cullen, who earlier this year pleaded guilty to one count in connection with his acceptance of bribes when he was a lawmaker.

He’s now due to be sentenced on Oct. 20 instead of July 5. Cullen's attorney, Birney Bervar, declined to comment.

Former Senate Majority Leader Kalani English, who also pleaded guilty in a related case, is still scheduled to be sentenced on July 5.

Kalani English Ty Cullen.png
Hawaiʻi State Legislature
J. Kalani English and Ty Cullen

The two Democrats each face up to 20 years in prison, but their sentences will depend on various factors. It's possible they will get less because they pleaded guilty early.

Cullen resigned his House seat representing Waipahu less than an hour before prosecutors announced the allegations in February. He entered a guilty plea the following week.

His plea agreement with prosecutors says he accepted cash payments from a business owner identified as “Person A” dating as far back as 2014. That year, Cullen received $22,000 worth of casino chips from the business owner during a trip to a wastewater conference in New Orleans.

The following year, Cullen introduced a bill as a favor to “Person A” that provided for a feasibility study and pilot project for the collection and treatment of wastewater, the agreement said. The measure resulted in “Person A's” industrial services company receiving a subcontract.

The agreement says the business owner gave Cullen four cash payments totaling $23,000 on separate occasions from September 2019 through March 2020.

Cullen has pleaded guilty to one count of honest services wire fraud. He's agreed to forfeit property he gained from the bribes.

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