HONOLULU —A former Honolulu chief building inspector has been sentenced to five years in prison for accepting more than $100,000 in bribes and lying about it to investigators, as federal officials continue to crack down on corruption in Hawai‘i.
Wayne Inouye, 66, must also serve two years supervised release and pay a $100,000 fine following U.S. District Court Judge Leslie Kobayashi’s ruling this week.
Inouye first began working for Honolulu’s Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP) in 1979, working his way up from a messenger to chief building examiner before retiring in 2017.
Between 2012 and 2017, Inouye accepted more than $103,000 in bribes from building permit applicants in exchange for expediting permit approvals, prioritizing their projects over others stuck in DPP’s infamously slow wait list.
The majority of these payments stemmed from one applicant, architect Bill Wong, who gave Inouye $89,000 in bribes between 2016 and 2017. In exchange, Inouye would review Wong’s permit plans prior to DPP submission, suggesting changes to ensure code compliance.
Wong pleaded guilty to wire fraud in 2021. He is scheduled for sentencing on July 23.
Following the March 2021 bust of Inouye’s scheme, Inouye lied to federal investigators, telling them the money he received from Wong was a loan. As a result, prosecutors tacked on a charge of making a false statement to a federal agent, on top of six counts of honest services wire fraud.
Inouye pleaded guilty in October 2022 to all charges, telling the court that the payments he received were for consulting, not to approve permits that lacked code compliance.
Inouye’s sentencing comes as a result of a monthslong 2020-21 FBI investigation of the department that resulted in four additional federal indictments of DPP employees, highlighting the widespread nature of similar “pay-to-play” schemes.
In April 2021, former DPP building plans examiner Kanaki Padeken, 45, pleaded guilty to accepting at least $28,000 from Wong and is scheduled for sentencing on Aug. 22.
In June 2022, another former DPP building plans examiner, Jennie Javonillo, 73, was sentenced to 30 months in prison after accepting over $63,000 in bribes.
In July 2022, former DPP building inspector Jason Dadez, 45, was sentenced to 18 months in prison and two years supervised release after accepting over $12,000 in bribes.
And earlier this month, former DPP employee Jocelyn Godoy, 60, pleaded guilty to accepting $850.25 from Wong in exchange for sharing digital files of building plans. Godoy’s sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 30. She faces up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and possible deportation.
Jackson Healy, reporter, can be reached at 808-647-4966 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: The Garden Island