Honolulu Councilman pleads guilty to theft - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Honolulu Councilman pleads guilty to theft

Rod Tam Rod Tam
Mark Bennett Mark Bennett
Ann Kobayashi Ann Kobayashi

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Rod Tam lost his bid for mayor and will be out of office January 2, but now instead of heading to a new opportunity he could be going to jail.  The State Attorney General announced Tam plead guilty to a total of 26 counts of stealing taxpayer money and falsifying government documents in what he called a breach of trust.

"It's our hope that public will take from this prosecution that no one is above the law and if you steal money you're going to be prosecuted and if you're a politician who steals money you're going to be prosecuted," said Mark Bennett, Attorney General, State of Hawaii.

The amounts Tam overcharged the city ranged from $8 to $267.  The receipts were from various restaurants around Honolulu. 

In response Tam said he is embarrassed by his actions. 

"Pursuant to compromise, I have pleaded guilty to a variety of petty misdemeanors and misdemeanors.  I submitted vouchers that exceeded actual bill amounts. I also submitted vouchers that were below actual billing amounts. I should have practiced better bookkeeping methods. I take full responsibility and deeply apologize for my mistakes," said Tam, in a written statement.

"He is sometimes naive. All the years I've known him he hasn't been dishonest. I don't know what happened. How can someone change and become dishonest?" said Ann Kobayashi, Honolulu City Councilmember, who also served with Tam in the state legislature.

Tam will be sentenced January 27.  He faces up to a year in jail and $2,000 fine.

Attorney General Mark Bennett will be leaving office and says it will be up to the next attorney general to decide the sentencing recommendation.  While he has his thoughts on an appropriate punishment, he will not make them public.

Tam still has five weeks left in office.  An employee says he does not plan to step down early.

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