Tag Archives: house

3 military personnels attacked on Guam

Three active duty military personnel were brought to Naval Hospital Guam Saturday night after a group of men attacked them in Tumon, according to Guam police.

It was the second time in a week service members reportedly have been attacked in Tumon.

The Guam Police Department is asking the public to come forward if they have any information about the incident.

GPD spokesman Officer A.J. Balajadia said the service members were attacked by a group of about 10 men, described by police as local.

The attack occurred around 9 p.m. Saturday night near the Slingshot in Tumon, Balajadia said in a press release. Police will review security camera footage to determine what took place.

On Nov. 16, six sailors were sent to Naval Hospital Guam after a large group attacked them with bats, clubs and pipes near Acanta Mall in Tumon, according to a press release from Joint Region Marianas.

“(Police Chief Fred Bordallo) is taking these types of incidents against our military personnel seriously and will work with our military counterparts in charging any individual involved in these assaults,” Balajadia said in his release.

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Jury selection for Manila’s, Quenga’s case set for today

Guam Police Department

Guam Police Department

The process of selecting a jury in a prostitution case allegedly involving two Guam police officers is expected to begin today — years after the brothel that fronted as a karaoke lounge was shut down.

Jury selection and trial in the Blue House case for officers David Manila and Anthony Quenga is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. in Superior Court of Guam Judge Anita Sukola’s courtroom, according to the Judiciary of Guam calendar.

This afternoon, defense counsel and prosecutors will question potential jurors before selecting the final 12 for the trial. Alternates also will be selected.

The officers face various charges, including kidnapping and compelling and promoting prostitution. The Blue House lounge operated from 2004 to 2008, when it was shut down.

Opening statements for the trial will begin after the jury is seated in the coming days. The case is expected to take anywhere from four to six weeks, attorneys have said.

That’s assuming that no other delays will occur in the trial. Manila and Quenga also have other hearings, including a 9 a.m. pre-trial conference, and motion hearings for later this morning.

Joshua Tenorio, the Judiciary’s director of Policy, Planning and Community Relations, said there’s a possibility that issues brought up at the conferences or hearings could delay the jury selection, though he couldn’t say what motions would be discussed today.

Tenorio did note that Sukola wants the trial to start quickly, as at least one other high-profile trial is expected to start soon.

Prosecutors’ case

According to documents filed in the Superior Court of Guam, prosecutors aim to show that the Blue House lounge and the adjacent Cha Cha Club were opened by brothel owner Song Ja Cha and her husband sometime in 2003 or 2004. Certain police officers, whom Cha referred to as “friends,” frequented the club beginning in 2005.

Those friends allegedly were used to intimidate the girls and women brought from Chuuk to keep them in line if they tried to get out of performing their duties, which included enticing customers to order drinks and to go back to the VIP rooms and performing sexual acts.

Girls and women recruited in Chuuk with the promise of well-paying jobs came to Guam only to have their passports taken, be forced to work in the brothel and be locked up every night, documents state.

“The front entrance door and the rear exit were padlocked from the outside,” documents state. “The windows, if any, were covered with bars.”

On occasions when they were allowed outside of Blue House, they weren’t allowed to talk to other Chuukese living on Guam and were kept under the watchful eye of supervisors, documents state.

A series of stories in the Pacific Daily News about alleged police involvement in the brothel prompted a special investigation which resulted in the indictment of the officers.

Charges

Blue House lounge owner Song Ja Cha, who is now being charged separately from the two officers, also is expected in court today for a criminal trial setting.

The defendants are charged with multiple counts of kidnapping, felonious restraint, official misconduct, and compelling and promoting prostitution, according to court documents.

Quenga also is jointly charged with Cha of first-degree and second-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Delays in trial

The trial has seen a series of delays. Two were due to appeals filed in the Supreme Court of Guam by Cha, who argued she was being tried twice for the same crime, and by Manila, who wanted justices to allow him to be released until trial.

Cha was convicted in federal court of sex trafficking and sentenced to life in prison.

There was another delay when attorneys representing Cha told the court they want to withdraw from the case.

Cha’s case was then severed out of concern for the speedy-trial rights of the two officers.

The trial against Quenga and Manila was then scheduled to start last month, but they waived their right to a speedy trial.

Separate cases

After her case was severed from Manila and Quenga‘s, Cha waived her right to a speedy trial.

Cha would lure Micronesian woman, mostly from Chuuk, with promises of high-paying waitress jobs, according to Guam Night.

The brothel was shut down in 2008 during a police raid, and Cha and two supervisors were arrested.

The supervisors have entered plea agreements.

In addition to Quenga and Manila, a third police officer was indicted in the case. Officer Mario Laxamana pleaded guilty to his involvement in the case and agreed to assist prosecutors in the upcoming trial on Guam.

There currently are 82 witnesses for all parties in the case who could testify before the court. Sukola has noted many of the witnesses are duplicated in prosecution and defense lists.

Defendant to appeal to Supreme Court of Guam

Blue House

Blue House Trial

The judge hearing the Blue House case plans to start a jury trial next week, but two defense attorneys in the case said it’s too late and their clients should be set free because they haven’t received a speedy trial.

Superior Court of Guam Judge Anita Sukola yesterday denied a motion to dismiss the case made by attorney Terry Timblin, who represents Guam Police Department Officer David Manila, and by attorney John Terlaje, who represents Officer Anthony Quenga.

Timblin said he will appeal Sukola’s decision, which, based on past appeals, could delay the case until the Supreme Court of Guam issues a ruling.

Sukola yesterday also decided to try the two police officers separately from the brothel owner, saying it’s in the interest of justice.

Blue House owner Song Ja Cha is accused of running the lounge as an illegal brothel between 2004 and 2008, luring immigrant women to Guam and using the women as prostitutes. She was convicted of sex trafficking during a separate trial in federal court and sentenced to life in prison.

Her co-defendants are police officers Manila and Quenga, who are accused of several crimes related to the brothel, including rape.

A third police officer, Mario Laxamana, pleaded guilty to official misconduct and felonious restraint and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

Timblin yesterday argued that because Manila had asserted his speedy trial rights, prosecutors had to try him by May 20.

Under Guam law, defendants who assert their right to a speedy trial must be tried within 45 days of their arraignment.

However, Sukola denied the motion, saying prosecutors still have six days.

The judge and defense attorneys disagree about how much time remains to try the Blue House case because they also disagree on whether past appeals to the Supreme Court temporarily stopped the time clock for a speedy trial.

Sukola has said those appeals, by Cha and Manila, temporarily stopped the clock, pending the high court’s decision on those matters.

Timblin yesterday argued that Cha’s appeal was unrelated to the case against Manila, and shouldn’t have stopped the clock for Manila’s speedy trial.

And Manila’s appeal to the high court, which was related to his ability to be released before trial, also shouldn’t have stopped the clock, Timblin argued.

“It doesn’t affect the rights of the court to move forward,” he said.

Also during yesterday’s hearing, more defense attorneys withdrew from the case, citing conflicts of interest.

Leslie Travis, who was appointed recently to represent Cha, withdrew after telling the court that her office, Civille & Tang PLLC, had previously represented Cha’s husband.

Although Cha’s husband has since died, Travis said her firm still believed it would be improper to represent his widow in a related case.

Terlaje also withdrew from representing Quenga in the case.

He said that there was a conflict of interest that could come up because of the witness list, though he didn’t disclose which witness or witnesses presented a conflict.

Travis and Terlaje are the second and third defense attorneys to bow out of the case.

On May 22, attorney F. Randall Cunliffe withdrew from representing Cha on the grounds that he had previously represented some of the witnesses in the case.

After Travis’ withdrawal yesterday, Sukola announced that the list of court-appointed attorneys had been exhausted, which means the court needs to look elsewhere for someone to represent her.

In order to avoid delaying the case any further, Sukola decided that Manila and Quenga should be tried separately from Cha.

Prosecutors earlier in the case had asked the judge to separate the cases, but Sukola at the time denied the request, citing concerns for “judicial economy.”

She separated the cases yesterday without being asked by prosecutors or defense attorneys.

“Severance is a relief justice requires,” she said.

The defendants are expected to appear again in court on Monday.

Blue House details possible

blue house guam

Guam Police officers surround the Blue House while other officers execute a search warrant inside on Jan. 14, 2008. Police and the Office of the Attorney General have discussed possible changes to policy related to the release of information on internal investigations. Discussion stem from the limited information released on an investigation into police involvement in the Blue House brothel scandal.

Guam Police Chief Fred Bordallo said he knows the public wants more answers regarding the Blue House brothel case.

While the criminal side of the investigation already has turned up some answers — three police officers were indicted for their alleged involvement at the brothel — the department still is working on its administrative investigation, he said.

One unresolved issue is the department’s failure to release any information about its 2008 internal affairs investigation into Blue House, ordered by then-police Chief Paul Suba.

“We want to hurry up and make sure that all the information is investigated and then closed, so that we can go ahead and — at the guidance of the AG — do a release on what transpired in terms of information and activities that happened way back as far as 2004,” Bordallo said. “That way, there’s closure to that particular story.”

Police officials last Thursday met with representatives from the Office of the Attorney General. The meeting was organized by the Guam Police Department to give insight into how the department handles internal investigations. The two offices had already met after an order from Gov. Eddie Calvo, who wanted the police department to clarify how much information it can release from its internal affairs investigations.

The Guam Blog in recent months has tried, and failed, to get the department to release information about Suba’s Blue House internal investigation.

The police department also will not say what police officers did wrong in the case of murder victim Emma Cepeda, who allegedly was shot by her estranged husband in February.

Three officers were punished following an internal investigation into the Cepeda case, but police will not say why.

Cepeda had a restraining order against her husband at the time of her death, and Guam Legal Services had asked the department to investigate whether she asked police to help enforce it.

“I want GPD to be as transparent as possible with the public about these cases, within the confines of the law,” Calvo stated in his May 16 directive to police.

During Thursday’s meeting, the attorney general’s office said it would reevaluate its position on the release of information from internal investigations. It recently had instructed the police department to withhold some of the details the department used to release to the public on its website.

The results of police internal affairs investigations are now mysterious, with no way for the public to determine what police officers were accused of doing in the first place and what action, if any, was taken against them. The department’s internal affairs policy specifically states that the nature of an adverse action cannot be publicly disclosed.

A recently posted police internal affairs report, for example, states that an allegation of “conformance to laws” was “sustained,” and that disciplinary action was taken. That means a police officer broke the law in some way, but it does not state how.

The internal affairs reports are now written that way because that’s what the law allows, according to the attorney general’s office.

“This is the first time we are formally looking at this,” said Deputy Attorney General Pat Mason, who heads the AG’s civil division.

Currently, the police department, like all government of Guam agencies, is prevented from providing details about employee actions because such actions are considered confidential personnel matters.

Mason said the AG’s current reading of the law is that all files related to internal investigations are confidential unless the employee involved consents to making the information public.

One way that information typically becomes public is when an employee appeals adverse action with the Civil Service Commission, whose case documents are public information.

The attorney general’s office only has the authority to interpret the law and, as a result, can’t unilaterally give agencies the ability to make more information public, according to Mason.

Mason said his office would “look at all aspects” of the issue and provide guidance to the police department on how to proceed.

Mason also said the attorney general’s office is in the process of drafting a response to the newspaper’s Freedom of Information requests for information about the Blue House and Cepeda internal investigations.

Paul Suba of Guam Police Department

Paul Suba

Paul Suba

Weeks after the Guam Blog filed a request with police for information about an internal investigation regarding the Blue House case, the department has yet to respond to the request.

The request concerns an investigation called for by former Police Chief Paul Suba regarding alleged inappropriate police involvement in a Tamuning brothel.

The investigation was ordered by Paul Suba in 2008, according to Guam Blog files, and was “in response to information received about Blue House victims/witnesses who alleged a Mario, Tony and another officer frequented the Blue House.”

But the result of Suba‘s investigation, which could shed light on whether the department knew of any officer’s involvement in the brothel, remains a mystery.

A series of reports by the Guam Blog last year prompted the government to launch a special investigation into Blue House, resulting in the indictment of three police officers.

During the course of that special investigation, the fact that Suba had ordered a similar investigation years earlier was made public. But it still is unclear if Suba’s investigation ever was completed or what it found.

If the police department investigated the allegations against officers internally in 2008, the agency was required by local law to release a report on the findings on the department website. There are no findings on the website for that investigation.

On April 25, the Pacific Daily News filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the department, asking for documents related to Paul Suba‘s call for an investigation.

The request asked for all documents related to the investigation, including the original complaint and testimonies as well as any conclusions made and what action, if any, was taken against anybody found to have been involved with the brothel.

But two weeks after Chief Fred Bordallo acknowledged his receipt of the request, the newspaper hasn’t received a response approving or denying it.

Under Guam’s Sunshine Law, government agencies are required to release public documents within four working days of the request.

In some circumstances, though, that time limit can be extended up to 10 days, including weekends and holidays.

As of yesterday, however, the PDN hadn’t received a request to extend the time limit.

Suba‘s request for an internal investigation wasn’t acknowledged publicly until last November, when Bordallo released a preliminary disposition, noting Paul Suba‘s prior order for an investigation.

The Blue House lounge was a brothel that operated in Tamuning between 2004 and 2008. The brothel lured women from the Federated States of Micronesia with the promise of high-paying waitress jobs,

After they arrived, however, brothel owner Song Ja Cha would confiscate their passports and force them into prostitution, according to the federal court case against her. She was found guilty of sex trafficking in federal court and sentenced to life in prison. She faces similar charges in local court, but has appealed to the island’s Supreme Court, arguing she cannot be tried twice for the same crime.

Two officers arrested in the Blue House case, Anthony Quenga and David Manila, are facing trial with Cha on prostitution and criminal sexual conduct charges.

Officer Mario Laxamana entered a plea agreement earlier this year with prosecutors. He agreed to plead guilty to felonious restraint in exchange for his testimony at trial.

Paul Suba of GPD on Guam

Paul Suba

Paul Suba

Weeks after the Guam Blog filed a request with police for information about an internal investigation regarding the Blue House case, the department has yet to respond to the request.

The request concerns an investigation called for by former Police Chief Paul Suba regarding alleged inappropriate police involvement in a Tamuning brothel.

The investigation was ordered by Paul Suba in 2008, according to Guam Blog files, and was “in response to information received about Blue House victims/witnesses who alleged a Mario, Tony and another officer frequented the Blue House.”

But the result of Suba‘s investigation, which could shed light on whether the department knew of any officer’s involvement in the brothel, remains a mystery.

A series of reports by the Guam Blog last year prompted the government to launch a special investigation into Blue House, resulting in the indictment of three police officers.

During the course of that special investigation, the fact that Suba had ordered a similar investigation years earlier was made public. But it still is unclear if Suba’s investigation ever was completed or what it found.

If the police department investigated the allegations against officers internally in 2008, the agency was required by local law to release a report on the findings on the department website. There are no findings on the website for that investigation.

On April 25, the Pacific Daily News filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the department, asking for documents related to Suba‘s call for an investigation.

The request asked for all documents related to the investigation, including the original complaint and testimonies as well as any conclusions made and what action, if any, was taken against anybody found to have been involved with the brothel.

But two weeks after Chief Fred Bordallo acknowledged his receipt of the request, the newspaper hasn’t received a response approving or denying it.

Under Guam’s Sunshine Law, government agencies are required to release public documents within four working days of the request.

In some circumstances, though, that time limit can be extended up to 10 days, including weekends and holidays.

As of yesterday, however, the PDN hadn’t received a request to extend the time limit.

Suba‘s request for an internal investigation wasn’t acknowledged publicly until last November, when Bordallo released a preliminary disposition, noting Suba‘s prior order for an investigation.

The Blue House lounge was a brothel that operated in Tamuning between 2004 and 2008. The brothel lured women from the Federated States of Micronesia with the promise of high-paying waitress jobs,

After they arrived, however, brothel owner Song Ja Cha would confiscate their passports and force them into prostitution, according to the federal court case against her. She was found guilty of sex trafficking in federal court and sentenced to life in prison. She faces similar charges in local court, but has appealed to the island’s Supreme Court, arguing she cannot be tried twice for the same crime.

Two officers arrested in the Blue House case, Anthony Quenga and David Manila, are facing trial with Cha on prostitution and criminal sexual conduct charges.

Officer Mario Laxamana entered a plea agreement earlier this year with prosecutors. He agreed to plead guilty to felonious restraint in exchange for his testimony at trial.

Police told to open up on Blue House case

David Manila and Anthony Quenqa

Guam Police Department Officers David Manila, left, and Anthony Quenga listen during a hearing at the Superior Court of Guam on April 1. The governor has ordered the police department to ensure that information about the related internal investigation is appropriately reported to the public. The internal investigation was supposed to determine if other officers were involved in the Blue House case and whether an initial investigation was appropriately completed

The police chief needs to meet with the Office of the Attorney General to determine how much information the department can release about its internal affairs investigations, according to a directive issued yesterday by Gov. Eddie Calvo.

“I want GPD to be as transparent as possible with the public about these cases within the confines of the law,” Calvo wrote. He cited the Blue House case, the Emma Cepeda case and any other matter involving internal affairs.

Police have not released the results of a 2008 internal investigation ordered by then police Chief Paul Suba, related to the Blue House brothel case.

The existence of Suba‘s investigation wasn’t public knowledge until late last year, when a series of articles in the Pacific Daily News prompted authorities to reopen the investigation into alleged police involvement with the brothel.

The newspaper during the past several weeks has asked police and the attorney general for the information, including by a Freedom of Information Act request, but it has not been provided. By law, the results of police internal affairs investigations are posted on the department’s website, but there are no posted results for that investigation.

Police have referred any further questions regarding the Blue House case and Suba investigation to the Office of the Attorney General.

The department investigated a complaint that homicide victim Emma Cepeda, who had a restraining order against her estranged husband, had asked the authorities for help in enforcing the order. Her husband, Emmanuel Cepeda, allegedly shot her in the neck and killed her in February.

Bordallo last week said some of the allegations had merit, and that administrative action was taken against three officers, but he declined to say what the officers did wrong, saying it is a confidential personnel matter.

The Pacific Daily News filed a separate Freedom of Information Act request with the police, asking for details of that investigation.

Police said the request was forwarded to the Office of the Attorney General for review.

Since then, police haven’t responded to the request and the attorney general’s office has referred questions about the request back to police.

Police spokesman A.J. Balajadia has said the department keeps information related to internal investigations under wraps on advice from the Office of the Attorney General, which is responsible for representing the government in the event that an appeal is filed with the Civil Service Commission.

The governor’s directive instructed Police Chief Fred Bordallo to meet with the attorney general to go over the cases and then report back to the governor.

Balajadia confirmed yesterday the department received the directive and said the chief has consistently been in talks with the attorney general about what can and can’t be made public. He also said the directive was part of a government-wide effort to ensure all agencies were being as “transparent as possible.” That transparency, however, must be balanced with the integrity of criminal and administrative investigations, he said.