June 12, 2023 | Susan Napier-Sewell

Chief Building Inspector Sentenced to 5 Years for Bribery

building inspector

A chief building inspector of Honolulu’s Department of Planning and Permitting for 38 years, Wayne Inouye, admitted to willfully receiving more than $100,000 in bribes during his time on the job.

Chief Building Inspector Inouye attempted a cover-up after being found guilty. Inouye will also pay a large fine in addition to his prison sentence.

How did a building inspector get involved in accepting bribes?

Inouye created a relationship with some of his Department of Planning and Permitting customers wherein he would look for code compliance in their building plans prior to their formal submission. He would “expedite permit approvals for those who paid him,” as reported by Honolulu Civil Beat (Honolulu Corrupt Investigations, “Former Honolulu Building Inspector Gets 5 Years In Prison For Bribery,” by Christina Jedra, May 24, 2023).

The Honolulu Civil Beat covered the remorseful statement of the building inspector 66-year-old Inouye . . .

“‘I know that I’ve let a lot of people down, including many good employees at the Department of Planning and Permitting,’” Inouye said through tears in court on Wednesday. “’And I’ve also tarnished the reputation of the department and for this I’m truly sorry.’”

The Civil Beat reported “Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Nolan said Inouye deserved the harshest prison sentence under federal guidelines – just under six years – plus a $200,000 fine. The minimum suggested by the guidelines is about four and a half years in prison.

“Nolan noted that Inouye was a supervisor who should be held to a higher standard. 

“’Instead of setting an example, he was on the take,’” Nolan said. 

“Inouye’s attorney, Tommy Otake, asked the court to disregard the sentencing guidelines. A large fine alone would be more appropriate, he said, given Inouye’s lack of criminal history, his age and his remorse. Plus, Otake argued, isn’t the public shame and media attention punishment in itself? 

“‘U.S. District Court Judge Leslie Kobayashi wasn’t swayed by that. She called Inouye’s crimes a ‘slap in the face’ to public servants who do their jobs honestly and without the expectation of additional compensation. In addition to his prison term, Inouye will have to pay a $100,000 fine.

“’Underlying all this is a betrayal of public trust,’” Kobayashi said from the bench, adding that corruption creates “’disdain for public servants in all sectors, not just in the building department.’” 

“‘Inouye’s sentence is intended to be a deterrent to others in public service who may be considering crossing ethical lines,'” Kobayashi said.

“‘he judge ordered Inouye to surrender to federal authorities on July 14. He requested to serve his time at the federal prison in Sheridan, Oregon. 

“‘Inouye is one of five former DPP employees charged in the federal bribery case.'”

Content source/credit: Honolulu Civil Beat (Honolulu Corrupt Investigations), “Former Honolulu Building Inspector Gets 5 Years In Prison For Bribery,” by Christina Jedra, May 24, 2023.

Photo source/credit: Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.

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