Not guilty verdict in GHURA trial raises questions

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The not guilty verdict on all counts for three of the defendants in the GHURA trial has raised some questions about how the case will move forward for the remaining defendants.

The not guilty verdict on all counts for three of the defendants in the GHURA trial has raised some questions about how the case will move forward for the remaining defendants who still have to stand trial separately.

When the indictment was originally handed down, it named six GHURA board members and executives.

At the top was board chairman David Sablan, board members Cecile Suda, Roland Selvidge, John Ilao, Deanne Torre, and executive director Michael Duenas.

Duenas was the only one to take a deal from the government, pleading guilty to official misconduct as a misdemeanor.

This leaves John llao and Deanne Torre next in line for a trial. But the not guilty verdict handed down Thursday raises the question of whether there will still be a trial for John Ilao and Deanne Torre or could the charges be dismissed?

To find out, PNC spoke with Suda’s attorney, Curtis Van de Veld, who says it’s at the discretion of Attorney General Leevin Camacho whether or not to follow through with prosecution of the other board members.

“I am unable to forecast what he will decide. However, I hope that he will make a proper decision and decide not to proceed any further in these prosecutions,” Van de Veld said.

The trial also raises another question: Why was Duenas indicted and not former GHURA executive director Marcel Camacho who held the position in 2011?

Coming out of the two-year ordeal, Sablan, whose attorney Samuel Teker raised the concern, offered his opinion stating that it’s management’s responsibility to ensure that the requirements of open government law are fulfilled.

“So if there was anything problematic about how we conducted ourselves, it would actually fall to the management of GHURA and I don’t know if the Attorney General is going to pursue this or not, but that’s his prerogative,” Sablan said.

PNC files indicate that it was Camacho who alerted federal authorities towards irregularities in the handling of the low-income housing tax credit allocations.

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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.