Former city worker faces sentencing for bribery plot
The city prosecutor says a former city Division of Motor Vehicle & Licensing employee accepted tens of thousands of dollars in bribes for updating vehicle registrations at discount rates for at least 12 years, costing the city more than $50,000 in vehicle registration fees and weight taxes.
Prosecutors are seeking 10 years in prison for Brian Keith Hamasaki, who is scheduled to be sentenced today before Circuit Judge Richard Perkins for first- and second-degree theft, two counts of bribery and tampering with government records.
Hamasaki, a customer service representative for most of 1991 to 2007, pleaded guilty April 28 to the charges and engaging in criminal activity from 2001 to 2007. He discovered a hole in the city computer system in 1993 at the Fort Street Mall Satellite City Hall.
He also faces up to five years in prison after pleading guilty in April to drug promotion and other charges.
Hamasaki's lawyer declined to comment on the case until it is over.
Documents filed by the Prosecutor's Office explain how Hamasaki's scheme unraveled.
Hamasaki had discovered he could process fraudulent paperwork because the Motor Vehicle Division used two separate computer systems, one for processing vehicle registration paperwork and the other to process fees.
Hamasaki took bribes from companies and individuals and charged half of what they should have been paying to update their vehicle registrations.
He would then process an emblem replacement request, which cost 50 cents, by accessing the city's motor vehicle computer database and input an emblem number taken from a log of legitimate numbers.
Another method Hamasaki used was to fraudulently update vehicle registrations by inputting a fake emblem number, then have the "customer" update his annual vehicle registration. He would then meet the "customer" and exchange paperwork for money, the court documents said.
In a case involving a single company, Hamasaki updated vehicle registration records for 19 semi-trucks owned by the company from 2001-07, taking 106 bribes and depriving the city of $34,000 in revenue.
Two informants who had paid bribes to Hamasaki for years went to police after he tried to increase the rates to more than half of what the city charged for vehicle registration fees. He then threatened to reverse the updated information and put a lien on the vehicles if he didn't get his bribe money immediately.
One informant worked for a trucking company and paid Hamasaki tens of thousands of dollars to fraudulently update its fleet of trucks. The other had also bribed Hamasaki for doing the same for her, her family and two businesses.
Police had one informant wired when she met Hamasaki at a Subway store in Salt Lake and exchanged a $1,000 bribe for updated registration paperwork.
Police stopped him and arrested him just outside the Subway store.