Ex-labor leader who used union money to fund lavish lifestyle found guilty of 69 counts
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A former labor leader who used union dues to fund a lucrative lifestyle for himself and members of family has been found guilty on all 69 counts against him.
A federal jury returned the verdict in Brian Ahakuelo’s trial on Monday afternoon.
The counts against him included fraud, money laundering, and embezzlement.
Ahakuelo’s wife, Marilyn, was also found guilty on multiple charges.
His sister-in-law, Jennifer Estencion, was found not guilty.
As IBEW Local 1260′s business manager, Brian Ahakuelo put five of his family members on the union’s payroll at six figure salaries. Prosecutors said he used $80,000 in union money for travel to Japan.
“The Ahakuelos used Local 1260 as their personal piggy bank,” said Assistant U. S. Attorney William KeAupuni Akina.
Federal authorities also say Ahakuelo, with the help of IBEW staffers like ex-sports broadcaster Russell Yamanoha, rigged a union vote in 2015 to raise membership dues.
Ahakuelo lawyers claimed the IBEW’s international parent, and not the local union, rigged the votes and that the union leader and his relatives worked hard to earn the perks.
His attorney said the perks were also needed to impress people who do business with the union.
The Ahakuelos are scheduled to be sentenced in March.
IBEW released a statement following the conviction:
“The recent convictions of Brian and Marilyn Ahakuelo have finally rendered justice for IBEW Local 1260 while bringing about closure for its members. While the verdicts were swift, the case and the process have been years in the making with countless delays and rescheduling. Mahalo to the jury, prosecution team, the IBEW, and everyone who stepped up, for their dedication to ensuring that justice be served.”
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