All seven defendants pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges of violation of open government law and conspiracy.
Guam – Although misdemeanor charges have been brought against six Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority board members and their executive director, additional charges could still be pending against the seven executives as the Attorney General’s Office indicates that the investigation is still ongoing.
It’s a complaint that’s 50 pages long but the charges filed against the seven defendants, so far, are only misdemeanor charges. The seven are accused of violating open government law and conspiracy by holding secret meetings in order to come to a consensus on how they would vote on various issues like bidders, bidders’ disqualifications, awarding of contracts, section 8 matters and low income housing tax credits.
The seven named in the case are Executive Director Mike Duenas, Board Chairman Dave Sablan and board members Rosie Blas, John Ilao, Deanne Torre, Cecile Suda and Roland Selvidge.
Attorney Mike Phillips, who represents Blas, thinks the nature of the case appears to be more procedural.
“From everything I’ve seen, the AG has not filed any subsequent allegations with regard to purpose of the meetings or if there’s anything that may have been done that they think is improper. It’s just strictly the meeting without fulfilling the proper notice and in the proper manner that’s, from my review of the complaint, that’s all the AG has chosen at this time to bring,” noted Phillips.
But that may not be all there is to it. Lead Prosecutor Joe McDonald spoke about the importance of the case and its future.
“The declaration paints a picture of the government doing business that’s not according to statute; I think it’s important that the people know there is a precedent for this type of case,” said McDonald.
And while federal authorities have not filed any charges against the GHURA executives, McDonald could not rule out that possibility in the future. The FBI conducted the joint investigation with the AG’s Office.
PNC: “Are you anticipating any charges to be brought in the federal system?”
“I definitely can’t speak on behalf of the federal government,” said McDonald.
PNC: “How about for the Attorney General’s Office? Are you sticking with misdemeanor charges or are you looking into filing additional charges?”
“I really can’t comment on that at this time,” McDonald said.
PNC: “Is there an ongoing investigation? Or is the investigation closed at this point?”
“Investigation continues all the way up until trial as it does in every case,” noted McDonald.
Meanwhile, all seven defendants pleaded not guilty and all seven were released on personal recognizance. They were ordered to return on August 31 at 9 am for their next hearing.
Attorney Curtis Van De Veld, who represents Suda, indicated that he will be seeking a motion for dismissal based on a statute of limitations issue.