Guam – Three guam police officers now behind bars for their alleged involvement in protecting the forced prostitution at the Blue House Lounge have all entered pleads of not guilty to the slew of prostitution and criminal sexual conduct charges against them.
All three appeared in Superior court Tuesday morning, along with co-defendants Song Ja Cha and Freda Esuen. Police Officers Anthony Quenga, Mario Laxamana and David Manila were not dressed in the typical blue. Instead, they wore the distinct color of prison orange for their arraignment.
Their defense attorneys want the case to be dismissed arguing that the statute of limitations has run out. They also asserted their clients’ rights to a speedy trial Attorney Tom Fisher represents Officer Anthony Quenga.
“We filed a motion to dismiss based on statute of limitations. The government alleged that this activity–it’s just an accusations but there’s no truth to it–but they have accused them of some behavior that occurred between 2006 and early 2008. So the government has been sleeping on this case essentially for four-and-half years. It’s well beyond the statute of limitations and the judge should just throw it out,” Fisher explains.
The indictment alleges that the crimes occurred between 2006 and January 2008. The statute of limitations on criminal sexual conduct felonies against adults prior to May 2011, when the law was changed, was three years. That means the government had three years after January 2008 to prosecute defendants Quenga and Manila.
The law was changed in May 2011, which means after May 2011, there is no longer a statute of limitations on such crimes.
“If they thought they had anything they should’ve brought it earlier. We’re gonna try to get officer Anthony Quenga out of jail,” Fisher says.
In fact, Judge Sukola had a stern message for Assistant Attorney General Nelson Werner on the timing of the superseding indictment. Sukola was hesitant to grant more time for Nelson to prepare for answers to motions for dismissal.
“Mr. Werner, you are and you do represent the people of Guam. You brought the superseding indictment. This case has been around since 2008. We were ready to go for jury selection and trial for this matter tomorrow. Then the government comes in with a superseding indictment nearly three years after the fact, sir, and asking the court to slow its wheels down … we cannot,” Judge Sukola warned.
Meanwhile, co-defendants Song Ja Cha and Freda Esuen did not enter any pleas today because both their attorneys requested for an interpreter. Blue House owner Cha is already serving a life sentence for forcing the young women from Chuuk to prostitution, while Esuen was her supervisor overseeing the girls.
Attorneys for the police officers also wanted to know why bail for their clients were set at such high amounts–$250,000 for Manila and Quenga and $100,000 for Laxamana. Werner argued that it was set at those amounts because of the nature of their crimes and the danger they pose and because they may be a flight risk.
“The government is making an argument that he should stay in jail because perhaps he’s a danger to the community or flight risk. Well if they thought that was the case they should’ve brought this four years ago,” Fisher says.
All five defendants are due back in court tomorrow morning at 9am. A bail hearing is scheduled for the three police officers. Motions for dismissal will be heard on November 26th.
- New indictment adds rape, kidnapping charges for GPD Officers
- Anthony Quenga of Guam Police Face Serious Charges For Brothel Involvement
- Guam Police Face Serious Charges For Brothel Involvement
- Anthony Quenga was sentenced in August 2010 for assaulting a woman
- Bail changes denied: Judge cites concern for victims
- Blue House Lounge Testimony on Guam
- Residents react to arrests: Some say action should’ve been taken earlier
- The Arrest of Officers tied to Blue House Brothel on Guam
- Judge denies officers’ bail change request in Blue House case
- David Manila, Anthony Quenga and Mario Laxamana of Guam Police Department
- Blue House officers plead not guilty
- Blue House case and Guam Police Department