City worker pleads guilty
Brian Hamasaki cut vehicle registration fees for 17 years
Former city employee Brian Hamasaki updated vehicle registrations at discount rates and pocketed the money for 17 years, said Chris Van Marter, deputy city prosecutor.
Hamasaki, 51, pleaded guilty yesterday to first- and second-degree theft, two counts of bribery and tampering with a government record. He also pleaded guilty to drug charges in a separate case.
He faces up to 10 years in prison for the first-degree theft and bribery charges, which are Class B felonies, when he is sentenced Aug. 27. Second-degree theft is a Class C felony, and tampering with a government record is a misdemeanor.
"We're going to be recommending prison," Van Marter said. "Obviously, when a government official is taking bribes for as long as Mr. Hamasaki did, the penalty has to be serious."
Hamasaki's guilty pleas were not part of any agreement with the state.
"He just wants to take full responsibility and move on with his life," said William Jameson, Hamasaki's lawyer.
Van Marter said the city conducted an extensive audit and identified individuals and more than five companies that benefited from Hamasaki's actions. Over the 17-year period, he said, the city lost thousands of dollars in vehicle weight tax collections.
Some of the companies have large, 18-wheel vehicles for which they could expect to pay $1,000 in weight tax annually per vehicle, Van Marter said. For one particular company, the loss to the city was a little more than $34,000, he said.
Van Marter declined to name any of the companies and whether they face prosecution.
Hamasaki had been charging companies 50 percent of what they should have paid to update their vehicle registrations. When he increased the percentage, Van Marter said, two of his co-conspirators contacted prosecutors and police. They said Hamasaki threatened to create problems with their vehicle paperwork if they did not pay the higher amount.
Police set up a sting operation and arrested Hamasaki on May 28 and charged him second-degree theft, bribery and tampering with a government record.
The other charges are the result of the city's audit.
The drug charges stem from when he was stopped at Honolulu Airport with methamphetamine, marijuana and a pipe on June 20, 2006, Van Marter said.