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By Theresa Merto

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, May 28) - About 100 potential jurors are expected to appear in the Superior Court of Guam today for a criminal case against former Gov. Carl Gutierrez and two of his former Cabinet members.

Jury selection for the case involving Gutierrez, his former chief of staff, Gil Shinohara, and former airport Executive Manager Gerald Yingling is slated to begin before Judge Katherine Maraman.

It is the first high-profile government corruption case the attorney general's office will be prosecuting under Douglas Moylan, the island's first elected attorney general. Dozens of former and current government officials have been indicted since Moylan took office 17 months ago but none have gone to trial -- until today.

The indictment states that the defendants allegedly agreed to use government resources intended for Tutujan Park, also known as Triangle Park, in Agana Heights, at Gutierrez's Urunao ranch. About $50,000 of the airport's money was earmarked for the Triangle Park in Agana Heights but that cost ballooned to about $500,000, prosecutors have said. The defendants all have pleaded innocent in the case.

It has taken five months for the case to go to trial.

The court is expected to decide before the start of jury selection today whether Seattle, Wash., -based attorney Frederick Canavor, who has been contracted by the AG's office, can serve as the lead prosecutor in the case. The defense attorneys have argued that Canavor is not licensed to practice law on Guam and have questioned his qualifications. Moylan said Canavor, a former special assistant attorney general for the Office of the Attorney General in New York and special deputy prosecuting attorney in the Federated States of Micronesia, is qualified.

Moylan yesterday would not comment on who would serve as lead prosecutor if the court denies Canavor's application to practice law here. Also serving as a prosecutor in the case is acting Deputy Attorney General Gerad Egan.

"The people are prepared to take this case to trial," Moylan said.

Gutierrez was the lone defendant when the first indictment in connection with the Urunao ranch was handed down in December.

In March, Yingling and Shinohara were added in a superseding indictment that charged the defendants with numerous counts of inappropriately using government funds and personnel to construct, upgrade and maintain Gutierrez's Urunao ranch. The former officials face numerous charges, ranging from theft of property to official misconduct and illegal expenditures.

Defense attorneys yesterday went before Maraman asking that the case be dismissed. Yingling had filed a motion saying his speedy trial rights will be violated if the case doesn't go to trial by May 30. The defendants had asked for a speedy trial, which means they have to go to trial within 60 days.

The clock in court cases starts after defendants are first arraigned. Yingling was first arraigned on March 31.

The defendants' rights were not violated, prosecutors said, adding that their jury selection is set for today. The judge agreed and denied the motion to dismiss.

About 100 people are scheduled to appear in court throughout today and more potential jurors are expected to be called in Tuesday.

Maraman is slated to question the potential jurors. The potential jurors will be asked whether they know any of the witnesses in the case or if there is any reason they cannot be a fair juror. Twelve jurors and two alternates will eventually be chosen to sit on the jury.

May 28, 2004

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com

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