3 others charged in Hawaii affordable housing scheme

Jul 25, 2022, 3:28 AM | Updated: 6:57 pm

HONOLULU (AP) — Two Hawaii attorneys and a businessman helped an ex-county official pull off a years-long, nearly $11-million affordable housing scheme, U.S. authorities said Monday.

Alan Rudo, who was a Housing and Community Development Specialist on the Big Island, pleaded guilty last week to conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud.

In providing more details about the scheme, which lasted about six years and resulted in no affordable housing units being built, authorities said Big Island attorneys Paul Joseph Sulla Jr. and Gary Charles Zamber, along with businessman Rajesh Budhabhatti, used Rudo’s position to defraud county residents of badly needed affordable homes and fraudulently obtain more than $10,980,000 in land and affordable housing credits.

Sulla and Zamber are charged with six counts of honest services wire fraud and one count of conspiracy. Sulla is also charged with one count of money laundering. Sulla’s defense attorney, Birney Bervar, declined to comment. It was unclear who represents Zamber.

Budhabhatti is charged with conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud.

Salina Kanai, federal defender for Hawaii, said her office represents Budhabhatti. She declined to comment.

The lawyers and businessman used Rudo’s position to shepherd affordable housing deals between the county and companies they had ownership interests in, Clare Connors, U.S. attorney for Hawaii, said.

“He was a public official. He was employed by the county,” Connors said of Rudo. “And his role was to assist the county in solving its affordable housing crisis.”

They allegedly abused a program that required developers to include affordable housing in their projects. Developers who agree to construct new affordable housing units in addition to any required under county code can earn excess credits, which can be sold or transferred to other developers to satisfy affordable housing requirements for other projects, according to court documents.

The four men then sold the credits and land they received, authorities said. The United States government recovered and seized more than $2.3 million and 45 affordable housing credits connected to the charges, prosecutors said.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



Associated Press

Body of avalanche victim in Washington state recovered after being spotted by volunteer

Search crews have recovered the body of a climber who was one of three killed in an avalanche on Washington's Colchuck Peak in February.

20 hours ago

Eugene and Linda Lamie, of Homerville, Ga., sit by the grave of their son U.S. Army Sgt. Gene Lamie...

Associated Press

Biden on Memorial Day lauds generations of fallen US troops who ‘dared all and gave all’

President Joe Biden lauded the sacrifice of generations of U.S. troops who died fighting for their country as he marked Memorial Day with the traditional wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

2 days ago

OpenAI's CEO Sam Altman, the founder of ChatGPT and creator of OpenAI gestures while speaking at Un...

Associated Press

ChatGPT maker downplays fears they could leave Europe over AI rules

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman on Friday downplayed worries that the ChatGPT maker could exit the European Union

3 days ago

File - Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, left, and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman arrive to the White House for a ...

Associated Press

Regulators take aim at AI to protect consumers and workers

As concerns grow over increasingly powerful artificial intelligence systems like ChatGPT, the nation’s financial watchdog says it’s working to ensure that companies follow the law when they’re using AI.

5 days ago

FILE - A security surveillance camera is seen near the Microsoft office building in Beijing, July 2...

Associated Press

Microsoft: State-sponsored Chinese hackers could be laying groundwork for disruption

State-backed Chinese hackers have been targeting U.S. critical infrastructure and could be laying the technical groundwork for the potential disruption of critical communications between the U.S. and Asia during future crises, Microsoft said Wednesday.

6 days ago

FILE - President Joe Biden speaks in the East Room of the White House, May 17, 2023, in Washington....

Associated Press

White House unveils new efforts to guide federal research of AI

The White House on Tuesday announced new efforts to guide federally backed research on artificial intelligence

7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...

Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

3 others charged in Hawaii affordable housing scheme