Opening statements in the Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority (GHURA) board conspiracy case began this afternoon, as three out of six former GHURA executives accused of violating the open government law by holding secret meetings stood trial. This is the first of three trials in the case.
David Sablan, Roland Selvidge and Cecile Suda face charges of conspiracy, official misconduct and violating open government law. According to the government, the issue came up with regard to the awarding of Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LITEC) and secret meetings.
Chief Prosecutor Basil O’Mallen said GHURA held a meeting in mid-December.
“However, as you’ll hear in testimony, Dec. 26, 2011 was a government holiday and GHURA was officially closed. But the board held what they called a working session and in this working session a decision was made on who would receive the award,” O’Mallen said.
O’Mallen argued that this was a violation of the open government law and that the board members knowingly conspired to violate the law.
In court today, Ronald Aguon a former attorney who is now an associate professor at the University of Guam providing training for public officers in Ethics and Government, was called to the stand by the government as the first witness.
Aguon was called to establish whether or not Sablan, Selvidge and Suda completed the course as directed by law when they assumed their roles on the GHURA board. As part of the training, public officials are schooled on the open government law and upon completion, are issued certificates.
O’Mallen presented the certificates of the three defendants to the court entering it as evidence.
“The second group of charges pertains to something that occurred on April 2015. An issue came up with a GHURA credit card and there was a need to make changes to the benefit of one of the board members. But rather than meet with public notice, they sent out an email and took a poll to make a board resolution to make changes to this credit card,” O’Mallen said.
O’Mallen said testimony would prove that this was another violation of open government law.
Meanwhile, Cecile Suda’s attorney, Curtis Van de Veld, argued that the working sessions were onsite inspections of programs.
Trial will continue tomorrow with continued testimony from government witnesses.