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Lawmakers seek to increase the penalty for high-profile bribery cases

Caleb Jones
FILE - In this May 22, 2019, file photo, former Honolulu deputy city prosecutor Katherine Kealoha, left, and her husband, ex-police chief Louis Kealoha, right, walk into federal court in Honolulu.

A bill that would increase the penalties for bribery in the state will move to its final hearing in the Senate.

House Bill 126 would change political bribery from a class B felony to a class A felony. That would double the maximum prison sentence to 20 years.

Prosecuting attorney Trisha Nakamatsu testified in support of the bill. She said public servants in heightened levels of power should be held to a higher standard.

The penalty increase also applies to bribes that exceed $20,000 and to anyone who commits three or more acts of bribery in a three-year period.

The bill is a part of the Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney's bill package.

A hearing for HB 126 has not yet been scheduled but plans to be heard in front of the full state Senate for a third reading.

Zoe Dym was a news producer at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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