Guam man freed from federal prison after contracting COVID-19

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Family members and loved ones of Honofre Chargualaf are happy that he was released from federal prison (PNC file photo)

Lompoc federal penitentiary is like a Petri dish for COVID-19 and District Court Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood won’t let Honofre Chargualaf spend another day locked up with his health at risk, stressing the reasons for his continued incarceration doesn’t make sense.

Honofre Chargualaf has served 20 years in prisons across the country. He was handed down a prison sentence of 30 years in 1996 for drug and gun charges. That sentence was reduced to 26 years leaving him 6 years left in prison.

During that time, he was diagnosed with Hepatitis C, a chronic liver disease. He also tested positive for COVID-19 in late May and to this day is symptomatic.

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He motioned the federal court for emergency compassionate release, citing his health and the present conditions at Lompoc as extraordinary circumstances warranting his early release.

According to Chargualaf, Lompoc penitentiary does not have proper safety measures in place in light of COVID-19. He shares a 12×15 cell with three inmates who also tested positive for coronavirus and is only allowed to shower three times a week. These are conditions which shocked the Chief Judge.

Chargualaf’s release was supported by his family, his attorney Leilani Lujan and the US probation office, all of whom applauded his self-rehabilitation efforts. Even the Chief Judge noted his exemplary efforts in turning his life around and maintaining a positive parenting role in his children’s lives.

This was the second time Chargualaf had requested to be released. He was denied release by Gatewood earlier this year siding with the government. He was also denied a compassionate release request by the Bureau of Prisons.

And while the government still maintained opposition to his release in line with the BOP, Gatewood had a change of heart.

And just before Wednesday noon Guam time, she gave the order for his immediate release.

As she spoke those words, a flood of emotion was heard as family members rejoiced at finally being able to have their loved one back in their lives.

Now 51 years old and having spent half his life behind bars Chargualaf was placed on a 3-year supervised release term which he will spend in California.

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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.