FORMER GUAM GOVERNOR GUTIERREZ INDICTED

By Theresa Merto

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Dec. 31) - Former Gov. Carl Gutierrez was indicted yesterday on charges he used more than $64,000 worth of government of Guam materials and personnel to build his two-story cliffside ranch in Urunao, Dededo.

Gutierrez, 62, and former Department of Administration Director Clifford Guzman, 50, also were indicted in connection with allegedly authorizing the use of government funds to pay for thousands of private streetlights. During the past two years, several former high-ranking Gutierrez administration officials have been indicted in local and federal courts on allegations of government corruption.

"This is just the beginning of a difficult journey, which will hopefully result in punishment for the criminal actions of possibly our most trusted government official of about eight years," Attorney General Douglas Moylan said at a press conference yesterday afternoon.

"This indictment represents the beginning of what we expect to be one of our toughest battles to prove what many have suspected over the years."

Attempts to reach the former governor for comment were unsuccessful as of press time. He was not available at his Agana Heights residence and no one answered the door at his Urunao ranch.

Hannah Gutierrez, a daughter of the former governor, did speak briefly as she was leaving her family's Agana Heights residence late yesterday afternoon. She said her father is on the island.

She said she did not know enough about the case to comment on it, and that further comment will come from attorneys.

"We're not distraught, but if there's a comment coming out, it will come out at some time in the future through the lawyers," Hannah Gutierrez said. She did not identify the attorneys.

The government materials had been mostly earmarked for the Triangle Park in Agana Heights but were used at the former governor's Urunao ranch, Moylan said.

After the press conference, Moylan said the Triangle Park apparently was a "front" for Carl Gutierrez's Urunao construction.

Moylan said between $100,000 and $150,000 was earmarked for the park but that cost ballooned to about $500,000. The bulk of the funds came from the airport agency, Acting Deputy Attorney General James Casey said.

The materials at issue included bundles of wire, 76 five-gallon buckets of paint and 148 bags of cement and were paid for by the Antonio B. Won Pat Guam International Airport Authority, the indictment states.

Between July 1, 2001, and Jan. 1, 2002, Carl Gutierrez "did unlawfully take, obtain and exercise unlawful control over the movable property" of the Guam airport, the indictment states.

Carl Gutierrez also "knowingly diverted" the services of 10 government of Guam employees for his benefit by having them work on the construction of his Urunao ranch, the indictment states.

Casey said seven employees from the Department of Public Works and three employees from Guam Memorial Hospital routinely worked at the Urunao ranch on Mondays and Fridays from July 1, 2001, through Jan. 1, 2002.

"Notwithstanding the fact that they are getting paid by a government agency," Casey said.

Moylan could not confirm whether the agencies' officials at the time knew that some of their employees were working at Urunao. Moylan added the case remains under investigation.

Some of the construction materials for the Triangle Park were stored in containers at Government House, "ironically, to thwart theft," Casey said.

"It is not uncommon for excess material to be ordered for different projects," Casey said. "But this was just exorbitant. It was just well above and beyond."

Casey said the supplies used to build the ranch were not transported to Urunao in one trip.

"There would be different people from governmental agencies who would ferry this material up to Urunao in their personal vehicles and/or government vehicles," Casey said, adding that the case has been partly built by eyewitness testimony.

Moylan disclosed further details to the Pacific Daily News after the press conference:

· The attorney general's office is investigating the airport's previous board of directors and former airport Executive Manager Gerald Yingling in connection with the Urunao case. Yingling also has been indicted in a separate case on allegations he abused a government-issued credit card during his tenure at the airport.

· Several people, including Guam Police Department officers, have allegedly intimidated witnesses from testifying in the case.

· An attorney based in Washington, D.C., was on Guam in the past few months on behalf of Carl Gutierrez. Moylan said the attorney was here for a case but said it did not involve his office.

U.S. Attorney Leonardo Rapadas yesterday could not confirm whether his office has any ongoing investigations involving Gutierrez.

"It is a policy of the Department of Justice to refrain from commenting on such matters, to avoid causing prejudice to the judicial process. The administration of justice requires that the rights of the accused be respected," Rapadas said.

He added that his office has and will continue to support the AG's office.

"The U.S. Attorney's Office works hand in hand with the Guam Attorney General's Office in many cases," Rapadas said. "White-collar and government corruption cases are no exception."

Witness tampering

Moylan raised concerns yesterday about people, including police officers, who have allegedly intimidated witnesses in connection with the Urunao case.

"We have already had several complaints by witnesses of individuals allegedly associated with the targeted defendants here, that are being warned about certain testimony that they may be giving," Moylan said.

"We want to make it very clear that this office is going to prosecute anybody within or out of this government that are attempting to tamper with witnesses."

The AG's office has a list of names of people who allegedly tampered with witnesses but would not release those names.

"There were certain Guam Police Department officers that were alleged to have threatened at least one of the witnesses," Moylan said.

"They were being intimidated, coerced, threatened and this is throughout the different proceedings we were conducting. They were coming forward to us.

Testimonies were changing all of a sudden and we believe it was because they were being threatened."

'Tip of the iceberg'

Moylan said that during his next year in office, he will focus on taking the defendants to trial.

"We definitely want people to come forward because we know there are a lot more witnesses out there. We are hoping people are going to have the courage to come forward to us," Moylan said.

He said prior reports have not fallen on "deaf ears."

The attorney general added that this case was the "tip of the iceberg."

"This doesn't exhaust the list of targets that we have because somebody acquired these government properties, and it was the airport. So we are also looking at the controller of the airport, the general manager, the board of directors. Somebody was in control of the government money."

Moylan said there are ongoing investigations that involve Carl Gutierrez, including the alleged illegal water hook-up at Urunao that was discovered earlier this year.

"This indictment reflects the unrelenting mission of this attorney general to stop the rampant government corruption our community has endured," Moylan said. "Ultimately, the public will reap the rewards of our battles with a clean government comprised of officials following the law."

"From the moment we came in, we were getting tips and information about Urunao," Moylan said. "It is not the last indictment we anticipate resulting from past allegations of corruption."

Pacific Daily News reporter Katie Worth contributed to this report.

December 31, 2003

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com

 

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