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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Hawaii

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, August 23, 2019

Executive Union Board Member And Family Members Charged With Corruption

HONOLULU – Brian Ahakuelo, 58, former Business Manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 1260 ("Local 1260") based in Honolulu, Hawaii, along with his wife, Marilyn Ahakuelo, 55, and sister-in-law, Jennifer Estencion, 52,were charged yesterday in a 70-count indictment. Charges include conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering, and embezzlement.

U.S. Attorney for the District of Hawaii Kenji M. Price stated that according to court documents and information presented in court, from June 2011 to May 2016, Brian Ahakuelo, Marilyn Ahakuelo, and Estencion engaged in a conspiracy to divert Local 1260 union funds and property for their own personal use. Brian Ahakuelo hired family members at inflated salaries (some of whom did little or no actual work for the union) and authorized the use of union funds for personal travel, a vehicle, and dining expenditures. When his activities largely depleted the union’s coffers, Brian Ahakuelo, with the help of Marilyn Ahakuelo, Estencion and other union employees, rigged a vote on Resolution 14-07 to increase membership dues. The false election caused members to pay an additional $3.7 million in dues over about eighteen months.

"Our office will aggressively investigate and prosecute corruption in unions – and any other governmental or non-governmental entities – that abuse the trust vested in them by the hard working folks in our communities," stated U.S. Attorney Price. "If your job is to protect the hard-working men and women in our communities, then do that. If you use your position to corruptly line your own pockets or serve other corrupt interests, we will use all of our resources to hold you accountable."

"The State is committed to investigating and prosecuting individuals who hold positions of trust, and who engage in conduct that violates that trust," said Attorney General Clare E. Connors. "We look forward to continuing to work with our federal partners as this litigation proceeds."

"The alleged acts described in the charging document are troubling and violate the trust of the members of Local 1260," said Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") - Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Justin Campbell. "IRS-Criminal Investigation is proud to hold those responsible accountable, particularly when the alleged crimes directly impact the paychecks of hard working electrical workers."

The conspiracy charge carries a maximum term of five years imprisonment; each wire fraud charge carries a maximum term of 20 years imprisonment; each money laundering charge carries a maximum term of 10 years imprisonment; and each embezzlement charge carries a maximum term of five years imprisonment. The charges in the information are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

This case is being jointly investigated by the State of Hawaii Attorney General’s Office, IRS-Criminal Investigation, and the Department of Labor Office of Labor Management. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Albanese.

Topic(s): 
Public Corruption
Component(s): 
Contact: 
Ashley Mah Edwards ashley.edwards@usdoj.gov
Updated August 23, 2019