A former employee of the Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting has pleaded guilty to accepting bribes in exchange for expediting building plan approvals.

Jennie Javonillo admitted on Tuesday that from 2009 through September 2018, she “engaged in a scheme to secretly use her official position to enrich herself,” according to her plea agreement.

“I took money, which I shouldn’t have, to help these people to get their permits … before others,” she said in court, according to the Associated Press.

The plea agreement states Javonillo took bribes from an architect/third-party reviewer, two architectural draftsmen, an engineer/third-party reviewer and a builder and provided “favorable action” in exchange.

She concealed the scheme by taking bribes in cash, using a personal cell phone to communicate with her associates and meeting with her customers off-site.

Javonillo agreed to pay the government her proceeds of $58,000, her plea agreement states.

She also faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, plus a term of supervised release of three years, her plea agreement states. She is scheduled to be sentenced in June, the AP reported.

Javonillo was one of six people indicted in federal court last year for bribery schemes.

There have been two other guilty pleas so far: William Wong, an architect, admitted last year that he had paid $89,000 in bribes, and Kanani Padeken, a former building plans examiner, confessed to taking at least $28,000. Both of them are scheduled to be sentenced in April.

The three other defendants are awaiting trial: Retired permit issuance branch supervisor Wayne Inouye and current employees Jocelyn Godoy and Jason Dadez, who are are on paid leave, the permitting department told the AP.

The indictments and guilty pleas have validated long-held suspicions about corruption in Honolulu’s permitting department.

Last year, DPP Director Dean Uchida instructed an investigator, Joachim Cox, and special master, Duane Kashiwai, to examine the department’s problems. Uchida told Civil Beat earlier this month that the department plans to assemble their findings and submit a status report to the Honolulu City Council in the next month or two.

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