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Ex-Hawaiʻi Island official admits to role in affordable housing scheme

A former Hawaiʻi County official admitted in court that he used his position to scam a program meant to address the lack of affordable housing.

Alan Rudo, who was a Housing and Community Development Specialist on the Big Island, pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud.

“My client is taking full responsibility for whatever he did and he’s cooperating with the government,” Rudo’s defense attorney Gary Singh told The Associated Press Tuesday.

In an attempt to increase the amount of affordable housing on the Big Island, the county enacted a policy requiring developers to include affordable housing in their projects or contribute to affordable housing off-site, according to Rudo's plea agreement filed in court.

Developers who agree to construct new affordable housing units in excess of any required under county code can earn credits, which can be sold or transferred to other developers to satisfy affordable housing requirements for other projects, according to court documents.

It was Rudo's job to ensure the affordable housing requirements were met and to help developers with the policy.

Rudo and unnamed conspirators “devised a scheme to abuse the County’s affordable housing policy, steal public benefits intended for low-income residents and thereby line their own pockets,” his plea agreement said.

They used his position to ensure approval of three affordable housing agreements with “extraordinarily favorable terms," and concealed Rudo's ownership interest in the companies and the bribes and kickbacks he received and attempted to receive, the court document said.

“In fact, the conspirators never built a single unit of affordable housing," the document said. Instead the conspirators sold the credits and land they received.

Rudo took and attempted to take from the co-conspirators nearly $2 million, the agreement said.

Rudo faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 when he is sentenced in October.

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