Supreme Court Reverses Blue House Convictions But Affirms Others

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The Supreme Court justices sent the cases back to the lower courts for re-sentencing. 

Guam – Two former police officers, David Manilla and Anthony Quenga could be serving less time in prison as the Supreme Court of Guam today overturned in part and affirmed in part their convictions.

In a release from the Judiciary of Guam, Chief Justice Robert Torres and Associate Justices Phillip Carbullido and Catherine Maraman held that promoting prostitution and compelling prostitution are the same offense for the purposes of double jeopardy.

Therefore for Quenga and Manila, the charges of promoting prostitution and criminal intimidation were reversed. Additionally for Manila the charges of first and second degree criminal sexual conduct for one of the victims were also reversed.

However, the Supreme Court affirmed, for Quenga, the convictions of conspiracy to commit kidnapping, eight counts of kidnapping, eight counts of felonious restraint, eight counts of compelling prostitution, one count of first degree CSC, two counts of second degree CSC, and one count each of attempted first degree CSC, attempted second degree CSC and official misconduct.

For Manila, the justices affirmed the convictions of one count of conspiracy to commit kidnapping, five counts firstdegree kidnapping, five counts felonious restraint, five counts compelling prostitution and one count each of first degree CSC, second degree CSC and official misconduct.

Both former police officers were convicted in September 2013 in the high profile Blue House prostitution in which they were involved in a prostitution ring at the old Blue House lounge. The bar’s owner, Song Ja Cha, was convicted in federal court after police uncovered an underground brothel she operated there. Most of the victims were Chuukese women who were recruited to Guam with the promise of a better life working as servers at the bar only for them to find out that they were sent to Guam to serve as prostitutes. 

Manila had testified in the federal trial that he once paid to have sex with one of the victims. Quenga, however, continues to maintain his innocence and has stated in the past they he’s not the “Tony” the victims claim intimidated them into not reporting the crime to authorities.

A third police officer, Mario Laxamana, signed a plea deal with the Attorney General’s Office in exchange for no prison time.

 

The Supreme Court sent the cases back to the lower courts for re-sentencing. 

You can read the press release from the Judiciary of Guam for Quenga’s case below:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – December 31, 2015 – Today, the Supreme Court of Guam, in an opinion authored by Justice Katherine A. Maraman and joined by Chief Justice Robert J. Torres and Justice F. Philip Carbullido, decided the appeal in the case of People v. Quenga, 2015 Guam 39. Quenga appealed his convictions based on claimed defects in the indictment and claims of insufficiency of the evidence, instructional error, and improper vouching. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court in part, affirmed in part, and remanded for further proceedings.

Today’s opinion holds that promoting prostitution and compelling prostitution are the same offense for the purposes of double jeopardy. The opinion also holds that Quenga’s conviction of criminal intimidation was duplicitous and that there was insufficient evidence to establish the formation of multiple conspiracies. Therefore, Quenga’s convictions of promoting prostitution, criminal intimidation, and all but the most serious conspiracy conviction must be vacated.

The Supreme Court affirms the Superior Court’s convictions of Conspiracy to Commit Kidnapping (As a First Degree Felony), eight counts of kidnapping, eight counts of felonious restraint, eight counts of compelling prostitution, one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct (“CSC”), two counts of second-degree CSC, one count of attempted first-degree CSC, one count of attempted second-degree CSC, and one count of official misconduct. The case is remanded for resentencing.

 

You can read the press releases from the Judiciary of Guam for Manila’s case below:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – December 31, 2015 – Today, the Supreme Court of Guam, in an opinion authored by Justice Katherine A. Maraman and joined by Chief Justice Robert J. Torres and Justice F. Philip Carbullido, decided the appeal in the case of People v. Manila, 2015 Guam 40. Manila appealed his convictions based on claims of insufficiency of the indictment, insufficiency of the evidence and other arguments. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court in part, affirmed in part, and remanded for further proceedings.

Today’s opinion, relying on our recent decision in People v. Quenga, 2015 Guam 39, holds that promoting prostitution and compelling prostitution are the same offense for the purposes of double jeopardy. The opinion also holds that Manila’s conviction of criminal intimidation was duplicitous, there was insufficient evidence to establish first and second degree criminal sexual conduct (“CSC”) convictions with respect to S.W., and there was insufficient evidence to establish the formation of multiple conspiracies. Therefore, Manila’s convictions of promoting prostitution, criminal intimidation, first and second degree CSC (with respect to S.W.), and all but the most serious conspiracy conviction must be vacated.

The Supreme Court affirms the Superior Court’s convictions of one count of conspiracy to commit kidnapping, five counts of first-degree kidnapping, five counts of felonious restraint, five counts of compelling prostitution, one count of first-degree CSC, one count of second- degree CSC, and one count of official misconduct. The case is remanded for resentencing.