Lavish salaries, perks focus of federal theft investigation into union boss

Published: Apr. 23, 2019 at 8:46 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Federal prosecutors are wrapping up a three-year investigation into IBEW Local 1260′s former business manager Brian Ahakuelo, Hawaii News Now has learned.

Investigators recently served Ahakuelo’s relatives with target letters, a source familiar with the investigation said. And several sources said federal authorites have asked him to come and answer the allegations.

“You can tell this is when a case is coming to an end. The target letters go out, the target letters say we have enough to indict you right now," said Ken Lawson, of the University of Hawaii Law School.

Sources said the theft investigation centers on salaries and perks, such as free airfare and hotel expenses paid from union funds to Ahakuelo and relatives who worked for the IBEW.

The union’s public filings show that in 2015, it paid Ahakuelo $201,000 while his son Brandon was paid $143,000. His wife, Marilyn, was also on the payroll ― earning $105,000 that year.

The salaries and perks placed the union in financial trouble, prompting a takeover over by its international parent. The union is no longer operating under trusteeship.

Hawaii News Now has learned that several former union workers have reached tentative plea deals with federal investigators in exchange for their cooperation.

Investigators are also looking into voter fraud allegations connected to a union dues increase in 2015.

A large number of votes to increase dues came from the union’s Guam unit, even though the increase didn’t apply to them.

Ahakuelo’s attorney Eric Seitz had no immediate comment.

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