A federal judge has sentenced a former public official to 46 months behind bars on Tuesday for embezzlement and bribery.

In October, Stacy Higa — a former Hawaii County councilman and candidate for mayor as well as CEO of the Big Island’s only public access station, Na Leo TV — admitted to embezzling more than $38,000 from AmeriCorps and offering a bribe in return for grants under coronavirus aid.

Officials said the 58-year-old spent the embezzled funds on personal expenses, including paying for about $20,000 of elective aesthetic dental care.

“Stacy Higa exploited his position of trust to steal AmeriCorps funds from vulnerable communities and schemed to deny his neighbors money needed for pandemic relief,” said Inspector General Jeffrey of AmeriCorps.

The Department of Justice said Higa will be placed on three years of supervised release following his prison term. He will also be required to pay back the money he stole and perform 200 hours of community service.

Support nonprofit, independent journalism.

During this election season, we hope that our coverage provides you with the information to make informed decisions on issues that you care deeply about.

Whether it’s affordable housing, education or the environment, these issues depend on your vote, and our ability to report on them depends on your support.

Every contribution, however big or small, allows us to continue keeping readers informed through election day and beyond. So, if you found value in our coverage, please take the next step by making a contribution to Civil Beat today.

About the Author