Former Maui official sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for fraud, accepting bribes
February 8, 2023, 3:59 PM HST
* Updated February 8, 4:00 PM
A former Maui official was sentenced today to 10 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to honest services wire fraud involving the acceptance of multiple bribes totaling up to $2 million.
Stewart Olani Stant, 55, who was employed as manager of the Wastewater Division, and then the director of the Department of Environmental Management, was accused of steering $19 million in contracts to H2O Processes, LLC, a company run by Hawaiʻi businessman Milton Choy.
The sentence was handed down by Chief United States District Judge Derrick K. Watson. In addition to the federal jail term, Stant was also ordered to pay a $1.9M money judgment forfeiture.
The US Department of Justice, United States Attorney’s Office District of Hawaiʻi reports the fraud consisted of acceptance of multiple bribes between 2012 and 2018 in the form of cash, bank deposits, and gambling trips to Las Vegas “in order to provide lucrative sole source contracts from Maui County’s Department of Environmental Management to businessman Milton Choy.”
“Mr. Stant was a public official given the discretion to use government funds for public contracts with the public’s expectation that he would do so honestly. By directing public contracts to a specific company in exchange for money and other financial benefits, all in violation of federal law and state ethics requirements, he failed to discharge that responsibility faithfully,” said US Attorney Clare E. Connors in a department news release.
AG Connors said the office is committed to prosecuting public officials “who criminally abuse their official positions to serve their personal interests and thereby deprive the people of Hawaiʻi of honest services.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation that resulted in the prosecution, which was handled by Assistant US Attorneys Ken Sorenson, Micah Smith and Michael Albanese.
“Mr. Stant was a public servant entrusted by the taxpayers to act in their best interest,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Steven Merrill in the release. “Instead, he violated that trust by accepting nearly $2 million in bribes. Today’s sentence sends a clear message: the FBI will work tirelessly to investigate public corruption and bring those responsible to justice.”
When a felony information was unsealed in September again Stant, Justice officials said Stat’s alleged actions violated federal law because the value of the contracts exceeded $5,000 and Maui County received more than $10,000 in federal funding during each of the calendar years of the continuing bribery scheme.
Choy is the same individual identified as “Person A” in a separate bribery case involving former Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English and former State Representative Ty Cullen, announced last February.
English was sentenced to 40 months in federal prison and was ordered to pay a $100,000 fine. Choy and Cullen are awaiting sentencing.