Judge Anita Sukola yesterday denied requests to modify bail for the three Guam police officers charged in the Blue House case.
The Superior Court of Guam judge cited a potential risk to the community and the officers’ alleged victims as reasons for disallowing the officers to be released on personal bonds.
Bail for Officers David Manila, Mario Laxamana and Anthony Quenga currently is set at $250,000, $100,000 and $250,000, respectively.
Attorneys for the officers initially filed their motions for bail changes earlier this week following the announcement of charges in the Blue House case.
The officers are charged with 14 crimes, including promoting prostitution, compelling prostitution and conspiracy to commit kidnapping.
Two officers, David Manila and Anthony Quenga, also are charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct and attempted first-degree criminal sexual conduct, respectively. The Blue House karaoke lounge actually was a brothel, where women — mostly immigrants from Chuuk state in the Federated States of Micronesia — were forced into prostitution. It was closed in 2008.
At a hearing for the officers on Wednesday, attorneys argued the officers weren’t a flight risk or a risk to the community. They argued that, as a result, assigning such a high bail only served punitive purposes and was intended to keep the officers behind bars.
However, the prosecutors for the case argued that, while the officers might not pose a flight risk, letting them out on a personal bond could put the alleged victims at risk.
FBI task force
To prove that point, prosecutors put an officer assigned to an FBI task force on the stand to testify about his encounters with the alleged victims.
Officer Tracey Volta testified that the women he had spoken to were afraid of the police as recently as last month.
Yesterday, Sukola announced that she wouldn’t be modifying bail for the officers.
“The court notes the defendant is a veteran police officer and has significant familial ties to Guam,” Sukola said to Manila. “However . . . the court is extremely concerned that the safety of the community is at risk.”
She denied Manila’s bail change request and then proceeded to deny the other two defendants’ requests.
During the hearing, attorney Peter Perez, who represents Laxamana, noted his client’s intention to post bail.
It’s uncertain if Quenga and Manila also plan to post bail.
Yesterday also was the scheduled arraignment for Blue House owner Song Ja Cha.
She was expected to enter a plea for her involvement with the Blue House, however that hearing was postponed as the court was unable to acquire a Korean translator for Cha. Cha already is serving life in federal prison for sex trafficking.
This is the second time her arraignment has been postponed in the Superior Court.
A third hearing for Cha is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Monday.
Statute of limitations
At that time, Sukola will hear arguments for the dismissal of all charges against the officers in the Blue House case.
Attorneys for the defendants already have filed motions — and the prosecution their response — with the Superior Court alleging the officers were held beyond a timely manner and that the statute of limitations already has expired on the charges against the officers.
The officers were arrested last weekend on warrants following their indictment in the Blue House case.
Their arrests are part of an ongoing investigation being coordinated by the Guam Police Department and the Office of the Attorney General to determine if any officers were inappropriately involved with the brothel.
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