GHURA special assistant takes to the stand

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Another unforeseen circumstance has halted trial in the GHURA conspiracy case, at least for today. But there was some time to begin the examination of the government’s witness — Melinda “Millie” Taitano.

Millie Taitano worked as the special assistant to the executive director of GHURA from 2003 to February 2019. She was responsible for coordinating meetings and events for the GHURA board of and GHURA management. But before she began testifying in court, the prosecution made it clear that any statements she makes on the stand is done so with full immunity.

Chief Prosecutor Basil O’Mallen informed Taitano that the statute of limitations is three years.

“We have discussed this with the court and the defense counsel and for your testimony today, you respond truthfully and the government will grant you immunity for any criminal acts that you might have been complicit in based on your testimony,” he said.

Full immunity was granted in exchange for Taitano’s testimony as the government pointed out her role as assistant to the director.

“She was the one that sent out the emails calling people for the working session where the alleged violation occurred. She complicitly became a part of the conspiracy theory. That’s why we want to make sure she does not get charged,” O’Mallen said.

Today’s hearing centered around the emails sent out in 2011 relative to the Dec. 26th and 27th meeting. According to the prosecutor, those emails show that the open government law was violated, presenting documentation by Taitano indicating that she polled GHURA board members prior to the Dec. 27th meeting to determine how they would vote on the awarding of low-income housing tax credits.

O’Mallen: “Why did you take a poll?
Taitano: “To get the respective commissioners vote on this issue.”

O’Mallen: “As a result of the poll did the commission eventually vote on this issue?
Taitano: “Yes.”

O’Mallen: “And it was published on April 28th? And did the vote correspond with the poll that was taken on April 17th?
Taitano: “I don’t understand.”

O’Mallen: “On April 28th, did they ratify the resolution based on the poll?”
Taitano: “ Yes.”

It was noted to the jury that defendant Cecile Suda was not a party in this particular instance and the evidence presented should not be taken into account when considering the charges against her.

The case was continued due to a juror falling ill during today’s proceedings. Trial will resume tomorrow at 1:30 p.m.

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Jolene Toves
Jolene joined the PNC team in 2017, as a producer, co-anchor and investigative reporter covering law enforcement, courts and crimes. Notable coverage includes the Ehlert case, the Mark Torre Jr. trial, the Allan Agababa trial, exclusive pieces on the Life of a Drug Dealer/Addict, and Life behind bars...the story of Honofre Chargualaf and Kevin Cruz. In 2019, she was promoted to Assistant News Director and Lead Anchor. From 2015 to 2017 she served as Public Relations and Promotions Manager, for the Hotel Nikko Guam handling local radio and advertorial promotions, as well as produced and directed tv commercials for the hotel. Prior to this she worked with KUAM for three years as a reporter and segment host. She began her journalism career in 2012, working with Glimpses of Guam contributing to the Guam Business Magazine, R&R magazine, MDM magazine and the Marianas Business Journal.