Businessman pleads guilty in huge bribery scandal that led to convictions of 3 public officials
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The businessman at the center of the state’s largest bribery scandal pleaded guilty in federal court Monday. A former Maui wastewater official also pleaded guilty to receiving the bribes.
Businessman Milton Choy made his first appearance in federal court today on bribery charges, where he pleaded guilty to a single count of bribing a former Maui waste water official.
Prosecutors say his conviction will send a message that public corruption won’t be tolerated.
“We will aggressively pursue anybody who violates their public oath,” said assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Sorenson. “And anybody who wants to corruptly affect the process.”
The 59-year-old Choy admitted that he paid about $2 million in bribes to Stewart between 2012 and 2018.
In exchange, Stant ― who is 55 ― steered 56 non-bid contracts totaling nearly $20 to Choy’s company, H2O Process Systems.
Choy’s attorney, Michael Green, says the bribes initially began with small gifts but escalated over the years.
“You do a favor for one person, and then it grows into another favor,” Green said.
“And then pretty soon somebody has a mortgage payment to make, they have a car payment to make all of a sudden somebody’s going to Vegas to see a show. And it kind of escalates.”
Choy faces up to 10 years in prison when he’s sentenced in January.
But because of his active role in the bribery investigation into two state lawmakers, he’ll likely get less than that.
“He was very cooperative,” Sorenson said. “Obviously, we relied on on his work a great deal in some other cases, as you guys are aware. So yeah, he was a valuable asset.”
Copyright 2022 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.