Former union officer sentenced to 11 years 8 months for conspiracy, embezzlement
Former union officer, Brian Ahakuelo, 61, was sentenced today in federal court to 140 months imprisonment and three years of supervised release for conspiracy, wire fraud, and embezzlement. The crimes were committed while he was employed by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1260, according to the Department of Justice.
Brian Ahakuelo was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $209,391.72.
A federal trial jury found Ahakuelo and his wife, Marilyn Ahakuelo, 59, guilty of those crimes after a four-week trial on Nov. 21, 2022. Brian Ahakuelo has been detained in custody since the jury verdict.
The Ahakuelo’s were both convicted of one count of conspiracy and 42 counts of wire fraud, and also convicted of embezzlement of a labor union asset (six counts and three counts, respectively). Brian Ahakuelo alone was convicted of 19 counts of money laundering, according to the Department of Justice.
Senior United States District Judge Helen Gillmor previously sentenced Marilyn Ahakuelo to 5 years and 10 months in prison for her convictions.
At trial, the evidence showed that Brian Ahakuelo, who served as IBEW’s Business Manager and Financial Secretary, “hired family members at high salaries and authorized the use of union funds for personal purposes, including extravagant travel for himself and those loyal to him,” according to a Justice Department news release.
“When his activities largely depleted the union’s coffers, Brian Ahakuelo, with the help of Marilyn Ahakuelo and other union employees, rigged a vote on a resolution to increase membership dues. The voter fraud caused members to pay an additional $3.7 million in dues over approximately 18 months,” according to the news release.
“Labor leaders have a fiduciary duty to their members, and in this case, the jury returned its verdict after hearing extensive testimony and reviewing voluminous documentary evidence of Brian and Marilyn Ahakuelo’s criminal violation of that duty,” said United States Attorney Clare E. Connors.
Special Agent in Charge Adam Jobes, IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Seattle Field Office said, “Let today’s sentence be a cautionary tale to other would-be fraudsters that IRS-CI is committed to bringing criminals like the Ahakuelos to justice.”
This conviction is the result of an investigation conducted by the Internal Revenue Service-CI, Department of Labor – Office of Labor Management Standards, and State of Hawaiʻi Attorney General’s Office. Assistant US Attorneys Michael F. Albanese and W. KeAupuni Akina prosecuted the case.