Rod Tam sentencing delayed again
Former City Councilman Rod Tam’s sentencing on public corruption charges was delayed again after he was slapped with more public corruption charges.
Part-time District Judge Randal Shintani postponed Tam’s sentencing on 26 counts of overcharging the city for meals until Aug. 16 after Tam pleaded no contest to eight new state counts of violating campaign spending laws by misusing campaign funds and falsifying documents.
Tam’s sentencing has already been delayed several times since his guilty plea on the original charges in November.
As usual, Tam was less than contrite in admitting and accepting responsibility for his crimes. Nevertheless, he is asking the judge to defer acceptance of his pleas, which could allow him to walk away with no jail time and no permanent stain on his record. Previous corruption cases involving elected officials have almost always resulted in jail time.
The evidence is compelling that Tam used his city expense account and campaign fund as personal piggy banks, covering his tracks with phony receipts and, in at least one instance, an apparent outright forgery.
The city expense account case involves some $15,000 in overcharges for meals at Honolulu restaurants. The campaign spending case involves personal purchases at local stores using campaign money, unsubstantiated meal reimbursements and failure to report campaign contributions.
Tam could face up to 14 years in prison, but a sentence that stiff is highly unlikely.
For comparison, former Councilwoman Rene Mansho was sentenced to a year in jail in 2002 after pleading guilty to theft of $20,000 in city money and $300 from her campaign fund.
In a 2001 federal corruption case, former Councilman Andy Mirikitani was sentenced to four years and three months for taking some $6,000 in bonus kickbacks from staffers.
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