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Press Release

Former Hawaii State Representative Sentenced to 24 Months in Federal Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Hawaii

HONOLULU – Senior United States District Judge Susan Oki Mollway sentenced Ty J.K. Cullen, age 42, former Hawaii State Representative and Vice Chair of the House Committee on Finance to serve 24 months in federal prison for honest services wire fraud which consisted of his acceptance of multiple bribes in return for performing, and agreeing to perform, official legislative acts on behalf of a Hawaii businessperson.

According to the prosecution’s argument to the Court, Cullen accepted bribery payments on eight (8) separate occasions over the course of several years from a person identified as “Person A” in the Information. Cullen initially accepted casino chips in New Orleans from Person A and later supported legislation that would benefit Person A’s company. More recently, in September of 2019, Cullen accepted a $5,000 bribe from Person A for anticipated legislative assistance that would benefit Person A’s company. Cullen subsequently accepted payments in the amounts of $3,000 in December 2019, $5,000 in January 2020, and then $10,000 on March 10, 2020, $2,000 in June 2021 and $5,000 in October 2021. The payments Person A made to Cullen were for the purpose of influencing Cullen to support or manipulate legislation that would benefit Person A’s company.

According to other information provided to the court, on his annual mandatory gift disclosure reports, Cullen failed to report any of the bribes and gifts paid and given to him by Person A. As a part of his official gift disclosure submissions, Cullen emailed a false and misleading disclosure form, thereby using interstate commerce.

“Cullen’s acceptance of bribes while serving as a state legislator significantly undermined the public’s confidence in its elected officials,” said U.S. Attorney Clare E. Connors. “By using his position to accumulate personal wealth, he betrayed the trust of those who elected him . This office has prioritized public corruption investigations and will hold officials who violate the public trust accountable by prosecuting them to the full extent of the law.”

"The insidious nature of public corruption is such that it gradually erodes the very fabric of our society, causing widespread damage to our institutions and corroding the public's trust in them," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Steven Merrill. "This sentence unequivocally signals that acts of public corruption will not be condoned, and that the FBI will persist in its relentless efforts to investigate these individuals who misuse their positions of power for personal gain."

The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation that resulted in the filing of the Information. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ken Sorenson, Micah Smith and Michael Albanese handled the prosecution.


Elliot Enoki

Updated April 10, 2023

Public Corruption