Former city building chief sentenced to 5 years for role in bribery scheme

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Published: May. 24, 2023 at 3:09 PM HST|Updated: May. 24, 2023 at 4:26 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced a former city chief building examiner to five years in prison for accepting more $100,000 in bribes.

Wayne Inouye, 66, must also serve two years of supervised release and pay $100,000 in fines, U.S. District Judge Leslie Kobayashi ruled.

Former law enforcement officials said Inouye was a major player in the pay-to-play scandal that shook up the Department of Planning and Permitting.

“He’s definitely at the top of the food chain,” said retired Honolulu Police Deputy Chief John McCarthy.

“He can grease the wheels bigger, faster than the other employees could.”

Nicknamed “Wayne the Pain” by one Kahala homeowner who accused him of holding up his permits and of shaking down his consultant, Inouye was charged with six counts of honest services wired fraud.

He was also charged one count of making a false statement to a federal law enforcement official.

Inouye pleaded guilty to all charges and admitting accepting over the bribes over a five-year period starting in 2012.

In court today, a tearful Inouye apologized for his actions.

“I know I Iet down a lot of people,” said Inouye, who began working for the DPP as a messenger in 1979 and remained there until his retirement in 2017.

“I also know I tarnished the reputation of the department and for this I am truly sorry.”

His attorney Thomas Otake said in court that Inouye simply expedited permits but did not approve any applications for permits that didn’t meet the city’s building code requirements.

“Obviously, he made some mistakes here,” said Otake.

“Wayne wanted to take responsibility, apologize to the City and County.”

Prosecutors said Inouye took at least $89,000 in bribes from an architect and several thousand dollars from others to approve and expedite their projects ahead of others.

Several other current and former City Department of Planning and Permitting employees were also convicted on similar federal bribery charges.

Ex-DPP employee Jennie Javonillo is serving a 30-month sentence for accepting more than $63,000 in bribes over a ten-year period.

Another former DPP employee, Jason Dadez, was sentenced to 18 months in prison for accepting more than $12,000 in bribes.

“There was some common knowledge about which inspector looked the other way and took some money,” said McCarthy.

“This is just a bad reflection on the good city workers, the good people that are working in the Department of Planning and Permitting and doing their job.”

The city said today’s sentence sends a strong message that favoritism will not be tolerated at the DPP.

Inouye must report to a federal prison officials and begin his sentence on July 14.