By Theresa Merto

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Dec. 3) - A former Guam Ancestral Lands Commission employee accused of stealing nearly $14,000 from the agency was sentenced yesterday to serve three months in prison and will never be able to work for the local government.

A sentencing hearing for Beverly Leon Guerrero Jesus was held before Superior Court of Guam Judge Steven Unpingco. Jesus, who pleaded guilty, was ordered to pay $13,842.93 -- the amount of the cashier's checks she was accused of taking, Prosecutor James Casey said.

In addition to the restitution, the former administrative assistant was fined $1,000; ordered to perform 100 hours community service; and ordered to serve one year probation, Casey said.

"She can also never work again for the government of Guam," Casey said. He said that he agreed to allow her to self-surrender to authorities after Christmas.

"I agreed to a stay of mittimus, ... which essentially enables a defendant to tie up loose ends before surrendering him- or herself," Casey said.

Jesus withdrew cashier's checks from a local bank after forging the signatures of the commission's director and chairman on withdrawal documents, court documents state.

On Feb. 21, Jesus was indicted on several felony charges, including six counts each of monetary theft, theft by deception and forgery. She also faced a misdemeanor charge of official misconduct. She initially pleaded innocent to the charges but changed her plea to guilty under an agreement with the attorney general's office, Casey said.

It is the second government corruption case that has been settled this year, Attorney General Douglas Moylan said.

"I believe that the willingness of the persons accused of government corruption to accept responsibility for their actions is resulting in leniency from the court and we encourage these sorts of plea agreements," Moylan said.

"The focus of our government corruption division is first to make the people whole again from what they lost; to punish the offenders; to deter further offense; and to keep these sorts of individuals out of the government. Those are key elements of our pleas."

Moylan said it is a breach of public trust that is "being punished" when government employees commit crimes.

"I think it is important that we are getting our feet planted right now and we are developing the government corruption division," Moylan said.

"And as we move forward and get into the more egregious crimes, I do not expect to see these sorts of sentences. I expect them to be harsher as the crimes warrant."

December 3, 2003

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