FORMER GUAM OFFICIAL INDICTED FOR BRIBERY, FRAUD

admin's picture

By Theresa Merto

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Feb. 19) - Gil Shinohara, former Gov. Carl Gutierrez's chief of staff, was indicted in federal court yesterday on charges that he accepted thousands of dollars worth of bribes and conspired to defraud the Federal Emergency Management Agency, among other charges.

Local businessman Takahisa Goto, who at one time was considered a business partner of Shinohara, also was indicted.

The men, who made an initial appearance yesterday before Judge John Unpingco at the U.S. District Court of Guam, face several charges, including bank fraud and money laundering.

Shinohara, 43, and Goto, 52, were arrested around 2 p.m. yesterday.

"The charges are related to several government of Guam contracts, including contracts awarded in the aftermath of (Supertyphoon) Paka, and the financing of the office building known as Pedro's Plaza," First Assistant U.S. Attorney Russ Stoddard announced at a press conference yesterday attended by federal authorities involved in the case.

Shinohara, who at one time served as the acting general manager of Guam Waterworks Authority under former Gov. Carl Gutierrez, appeared in court dressed in a black T-shirt emblazoned with "Got Water" in white letters.

He was represented by attorney Randall Cunliffe, who is a Democratic senator and also is representing Gutierrez in a separate criminal case in the Superior Court of Guam. Federal Public Defender John Gorman was temporarily appointed to represent Goto.

When Shinohara walked into the courtroom, he glanced toward the back of the courtroom where media and federal officials were sitting. He then chatted with Cunliffe, occasionally smiled and appeared relaxed.

After Unpingco read the charges to the defendants, the judge asked whether they understood the charges, to which they both replied, "Yes, your honor."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Wilson recommended $1 million bail for each defendant and asked that 10 percent surety be posted. This means that Shinohara and Goto would each have to post $100,000 in cash or property. Wilson also recommended that the defendants:

· Do not go near any ports of entry;

· Do not leave the island without permission from authorities;

· Surrender passports to authorities;

· Do not possess firearms; and

· Do not have any contact with people mentioned in the indictment. Shinohara and Goto can talk to each other.

Cunliffe asked that Shinohara be released on a recognizance bond, adding that his client is a "lifetime resident" of Guam and has family ties here.

"We believe he is not a flight risk and not a danger to the community," Cunliffe said.

Gorman also asked that Goto be released on personal recognizance. He said Goto has lived on Guam for 22 years, owns a company here and has cooperated with federal officials, including turning himself in to the FBI yesterday.

The judge, however, denied their requests and set bail at $1 million.

"The stakes are very high in this case," Unpingco said.

Shinohara and Goto are scheduled to enter their pleas in District Court tomorrow afternoon.

Shinohara held several positions in Gutierrez's administration, including acting director of the Department of Public Works and acting Guam Waterworks Authority general manager. Goto operated several companies that did business with the government of Guam, including Port Enterprises and Daikin, the U.S. Attorney's Office stated in a news release.

Gutierrez was not at home last night and could not be reached for comment in reaction to Shinohara's arrest.

The charges allege that:

· On or about Nov. 17, 2000, Shinohara did "knowingly and corruptly solicit, demand, accept and agree to accept something of value, namely a $13,000 check from businessman "A."

· Shinohara, as acting director of the Department of Public Works, allegedly gave a federally funded bus shelter contract to former Republican gubernatorial candidate Tommy Tanaka without going through a competitive bidding process. Shinohara allegedly deceived the Federal Emergency Management Agency into believing that several companies had bid on the shelter project.

Shinohara and others who were not named in the indictment are accused of giving false and misleading information to investigators concerning the bus shelter project in order to conceal their fraudulent activities, the indictment says.

Tanaka has pleaded guilty in connection with the bus shelter contract.

· Shinohara, Goto and others allegedly borrowed money from the Bank of Guam under fraudulent circumstances to repair and renovate Pedro's Plaza in Hagåtña, but instead used the bank's money for personal benefit. They allegedly were assisted by former Sen. Willy Flores, who is described in court documents as an "unindicted coconspirator." Also included as part of the bank fraud charges was Keun Yil Kim, the majority stockholder and president of Rex International Inc. Kim also is listed as an unindicted coconspirator.

Stoddard yesterday would not say whether Flores or anyone else will be indicted in connection with this case.

If convicted of the charges, Shinohara and Goto face a substantial amount of time behind bars.

Bribery and engaging in a financial transaction with the proceeds of illegal activity are charges that carry a maximum term of 10 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000 each.

Conspiracy to commit bank fraud and conspiracy to defraud FEMA carry a maximum term of imprisonment of up to five years and a fine of up to $250,000 each.

Money laundering and conspiracy to launder money carry a term of imprisonment of up to 20 years and a fine of up to $500,000 each. The bank fraud charges carry a term of imprisonment of up to 30 years and a fine of up to $1 million, Stoddard said.

The indictment is the result of an investigation conducted by the federal Public Corruption Task Force consisting of assistant U.S. Attorneys from the District of Guam, special agents of the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation unit, and the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General.

Wilson will serve as the lead prosecutor in the case. Wilson was the prosecutor in the A.J. "Sonny" Shelton case. Shelton, who also was a high-ranking member of the Gutierrez Cabinet, was found guilty of corruption-related charges stemming from a scheme to rig bids with contractors on repair work after Supertyphoon Paka in 1997. He is serving a 10-year prison term.

"This has been an ongoing investigation that has lasted some length of time," Stoddard said.

When asked whether there are any ongoing public corruption investigations, Stoddard replied: "All I can say is the Public Corruption Task Force is still together and is still working and pursuing leads, and we'll pursue the evidence wherever it takes us."

February 19, 2004

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com

 

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment