A police captain has been arrested as a result of an investigation into a suspected security breach at the Department of Corrections. Police haven’t given details of the alleged breach, but DOC has said it is connected to the Blue House brothel case.
Capt. Mark Charfauros was arrested on suspicion of official misconduct, according to a press release from police. Charfauros was booked and released, and he will spend 20 days on administrative leave, according to the release.
Meanwhile, internal investigations into the allegations against Charfauros continue at both the police department and the corrections agency. A separate, internal investigation into the Blue House case also continues at the police department.
Police haven’t confirmed details about the allegations against Charfauros, but DOC officials alleged earlier this month that the police captain helped three other officers visit a suspect in the Blue House case. Charfauros has been temporarily detailed to DOC, but his duties have nothing to do with inmate visits.
Yesterday, defense attorney F. Randall Cunliffe said the complaint against Charfauros was politically motivated and the investigation that followed was just authorities going through the motions.
“I think GPD and the prison have to act on it when it becomes a big public issue,” Cunliffe said. “If it hadn’t been in the news and everything, probably nothing would have ever occurred for it. … But it becomes a big issue, and now they have to undertake it, otherwise the media is going to say that they covered it all up.”
Cunliffe said the case against Charfauros was initiated by a person with a vendetta against the police captain, although he declined to identify that person. Charfauros is a “lightning rod” for political controversy, Cunliffe said.
“(It is) more political bickering at the police department,” Cunliffe said. “The person who brought it to everyone’s attention hates Mark.”
The prisoner visit at the center of this case occurred on Nov. 21 at the Hagåtña Detention Facility. The officers visited with David Manila, another police officer who is accused of assisting the Blue House brothel, where nine women were forced into prostitution between 2004 and 2008. Manila has been charged with kidnapping, rape and other crimes, and is being held on $250,000 cash bail.
According to the visitors’ logbook at the Hagåtña Detention Facility, the three visiting police officers are Eugene Charfauros, Carl Lizama and Joel Terlaje.
During the visit, Mark Charfauros allegedly allowed Manila to use his cell phone, which isn’t permitted under any circumstances, said DOC Director Jose San Agustin. It also is abnormal for police officers to visit an incarcerated suspect after the suspect has been charged in court, said Corrections Officer Jeff Limo, who handles internal affairs investigations at DOC.
On the day of the visit, Mark Charfauros was planning to go to lunch with the three visiting officers, so he invited them into the Hagåtña detention center while he finished up some business, Cunliffe said. Once the officers were inside, they visited briefly with Manila, whom they knew through the police department, Cunliffe said. It is not abnormal for visitors to speak with inmates while passing through the facility, Cunliffe said.
“I say hi to Manila and (other Blue House suspects) all the time when I am in there,” Cunliffe said. “They are in the first cell. … It is impolite (not to.) Somebody says ‘Hey Randy, how you doing?’ and you are just suppose to ignore them?”
In response to the allegation that Charfauros loaned Manila a cell phone, Cunliffe said inmates use cell phones within the detention center “all the time.” Regardless of if this is against DOC rules or not, it is a common occurrence, and Charfauros is being singled out with this allegation, Cunliffe said.
“People use phones all the time in there. They use the land lines. They use paid telephones. … I have had clients call me on guards’ cellphones before.” Cunliffe said.
The Blue House lounge was a Tamuning brothel that masqueraded as a karaoke bar from 2004 to 2008. Brothel owner Song Ja Cha has been sentenced to life in prison in federal court, but now three police officers are accused in local court of assisting the brothel.
Manila — along with officers Mario Laxamana and Anthony Quenga — are expected to go to trial sometime early next year. Manila’s defense attorney, William Pole, has argued that prosecutors have received allegations against about 11 other officers, but have unfairly chosen only to prosecute some.
Manila, Laxamana and Quenga were indicted after a series of Pacific Daily News stories prompted the police department to reopen the Blue House investigation. Blue House victims levied allegations against police officers in 2008, but no officers were arrested for more than four years.