A former Hawaii County housing official pleaded guilty in Honolulu on Monday to using his government position to accept nearly $2 million in bribes and kickbacks from developers of affordable housing.

Alan Scott Rudo pleaded guilty to one felony charge of honest services wire fraud before Judge Rom Trader.

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Sentencing is set for Oct. 31 before U.S. District Judge Jill Otake, said Elliott Enoki, spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Rudo and three individuals used companies they jointly owned and controlled to deceive the public into believing that affordable housing projects would be built in Waikoloa and Kealakehe, according to a July 12 federal indictment.

The names of the alleged accomplices do not appear in court papers. But two are described as attorneys and one is a business person.

Federal Building 2022 District Court .
Rudo and the others deceived the county into entering affordable housing agreements for the development of land in Waikoloa, Kailua-Kona and South Kohala. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

Rudo took official acts that allowed the companies to receive land and affordable housing credits while concealing his personal interest and involvement in the businesses, prosecutors said.

His conspiracy to commit wire fraud took place between December 2014 and October 2021.

In pleading guilty, Rudo admitted to helping the three other individuals draft and submit proposed affordable housing projects, “making it appear as if those companies would develop affordable housing, when in fact they had no intention to do so,” according to the indictment.

Rudo and the others deceived the county into entering affordable housing agreements for the development of land in Waikoloa, Kailua-Kona and South Kohala based on false premises. After the county signed off, the companies received land and housing credits “having an aggregate value of at least $10,980,000.”

Rudo and the others then sold or transferred the housing credits and land, distributing the proceeds among themselves. Rudo’s share amounted to bribes and kickbacks totaling at least $1.8 million, according to court papers.

Big Island Mayor Mitch Roth provided a written statement to Civil Beat saying that a county employee spotted Rudo’s misconduct and alerted federal law enforcement which led to the indictment.

Since the initial tip, county officials have worked “diligently and transparently with federal investigators and will continue to do so,” Roth said.

“Although these incidents happened under previous administrations, we are here to take ownership of the issue and will continue to find ways to better our transparency and ensure honest services to all in our community,” he added.

Environment Hawaii, a monthly newsletter, has been tracking the three affordable housing projects listed in the indictment for several years. In its June edition, one month before federal prosecutors issued their indictment of Rudo, the newsletter took a deep dive into the matter with a series of investigative articles.

A phone call and email requesting comment to Rudo’s attorney, Gary Gurmail Singh, were not returned.

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