The prosecution threw the court a curveball on the eve of trial, deciding to amend the complaint against three of the defendants named in the case involving Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority board executives who are accused of conspiring to violate the open government law.
Chief prosecutor Basil O’Mallen filed the amended complaint on Sept. 30, the day before trial was supposed to commence. The filling resulted in a one-day delay in selecting a jury.
Superior Court Judge Anita Sukola expressed concern at the government’s action, canceling the jury selection which was scheduled for early this afternoon and instead, replacing it with a continued pre-trial conference to review the amended complaint.
In the amended complaint against Ronald Selvidge, Cecile Suda, and David Sablan, the prosecution dismissed several charges with prejudice, meaning the charges no longer contained in the complaint can not be re-charged against the three defendants.
While the charges against Selvidge remain intact, charges for Suda have been amended to reflect a dismissal of charge 27 and 28 in the original complaint. The only charges remaining against Suda are charges 12 and 13 for conspiracy.
For former GHURA Chairman David Sablan, a number of charges have been dismissed cutting it from 25 charges to 11 charges involving conspiracy, official misconduct, and violating open government law.
In court today, Attorney Jay Arriola and Jacqueline Terlaje were present. Arriola represents Deanne Torre while Terlaje represents Rosie Blas whose cases have been severed from the other defendants. It was noted that the complaint against these defendants will also be amended by the government.
With the amended complaint filed on the eve of trial, Judge Sukola has given the defendants until tomorrow at 10 a.m. to file any amended witness list.
At this time, it is anticipated that the government will call seven witnesses to include former GHURA Director Michael Duenas who took a cooperation deal with the government in exchange for testifying against the co-actors in the case.
Also named as a witness is GHURA executive director Ray Topasna, who filed a lawsuit in federal court against the GHURA board members as well as former GHURA attorney Mark Smith who is named in a federal case involving money laundering and fraud related to accepting payments as a Section 8 landlord which is prohibited.
Jury selection and trial are slated to begin tomorrow.