FORMER GUAM SENATOR TESTIFIES AGAINST SHINOHARA

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By Katie Worth

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Jan. 13) - Former Senator and Democratic leader Willy Flores walked into a federal courtroom in San Francisco yesterday and testified about his old friend and colleague Gil Shinohara.

Though the two men smiled and greeted each other as Flores walked in, very little eye contact was made thereafter.

Tape after tape of conversations between the two men that Flores had secretly recorded for the FBI were played for the jury and federal Judge William Alsup, as the U.S. Attorney's Office attempted to substantiate its allegations that Shinohara was accepting bribes in his position as a powerful and high-ranking government of Guam official.

The defense has not had a chance to cross-examine Flores.

On top of three bribery charges, Shinohara is accused by the federal government of money laundering and conspiring to defraud and make false statements to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

In addition to Flores' testimony, the jury yesterday heard continued testimony from FBI special agent Steven Moore, as well as testimony by Thomas Nielsen, vice president of Maeda Pacific Corporation, a business Flores had done work for.

In the same February indictment, Shinohara also was charged with bank fraud and bank fraud conspiracy based on allegations that he, Flores and two other businessmen took out a fraudulent loan, but those charges have been severed from the current trial, at the request of the defense, and will be tried at a later date.

It remains unclear what prison time or fines Shinohara could face if found guilty on any or all of the charges, particularly because the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday handed down a decision that will change sentencing requirements.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Wilson began his examination of Flores with a long series of questions establishing for the Northern Californian jurors basic facts about Guam and the region, such as where Guam is, where the Federated States of Micronesia is, who former Gov. Carl Gutierrez is, when Gutierrez was in office, where Urunao is and other matters pertaining to the way the government of Guam is set up. Urunao is where Gutierrez has a cliffside home.

Later, Wilson questioned Flores about several of the recorded conversations he had with Shinohara. Several of the recorded conversations, in which both English and Chamorro were spoken, were played in the courtroom and transcripts were provided to the jury.

In one recorded conversation, Flores discussed a landfill project for which he was hoping to get necessary permits from the Department of Public Works.

In his testimony yesterday, Flores said he asked Shinohara to smooth the way to get the permits from the government. In the same conversation, Flores said, Shinohara discussed getting "a piece of the action."

In a telephone conversation recorded in June of 2002, when former Gov. Gutierrez's wife, Geri Gutierrez, was running as a Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Flores and Shinohara discussed the cost of drinks for a campaign event, Wilson noted.

Flores said he had paid for the drinks from his own pocket as a donation to the Geri Gutierrez campaign, but was never given a receipt for that donation.

Flores also testified that Shinohara "was convinced" his office was "bugged," or being recorded. In one recorded conversation that took place in Shinohara's office with then-Gutierrez aide Joshua Tenorio, Flores suggested trying to make money off a Manenggon memorial project, Flores testified.

Flores testified that Shinohara began joking around and said, "You need to make the money legal, OK?" as he talked into various objects on his desk, pretending as if they were secret recording devices.

Also admitted into evidence yesterday was a document that was characterized as the plea agreement between the federal government and Flores. The details of the agreement were not specified.

At the end of the trial, after the jury was excused, Judge Alsup asked the government attorneys to work through the evidence more quickly because he said the jury was getting lost among so many details.

Wilson assured Alsup he would work quickly. After the trial wrapped up for the day yesterday, Defense attorney Michael Green said he also would try to be brief in Flores' cross-examination, perhaps using one day, rather than two.

The trial yesterday began with the defense's continued cross-examination of FBI special agent Moore.

Moore mentioned that Shinohara was not the only person whom Flores was cooperatively recording for the FBI. He said Flores also was recording conversations with businessman Wagdy Gurguis, owner of several Hawai´i and Guam companies, including Guam Resource Recovery Partners, which has for several years been attempting to build a waste incinerator on Guam.

Green questioned why at least one seemingly crucial conversation was not recorded by Flores and the FBI has no recorded proof that it occurred.

He noted that an FBI memo said Flores had told them of, as Green called it, "the mother lode" of all conversations with Shinohara, when Shinohara allegedly demanded both money and automobiles in exchange for a favor. However, in that one alleged incident, Flores had not recorded the conversation, Green said.

Moore testified that Flores told him he thought he'd turned on the recorder, but there was some possible malfunction with the recorder switch.

Green noted that Flores was an engineer and had been tape-recording the defendant's conversations for several months at the time.

Maeda's Nielsen testified he hired Flores to try to lobby for payments on a large debt the government owed the company.

He said the government owed the company more than $10 million for its work on the infrastructure of Lada Estates project, a project in which several hundred low and moderate income houses were supposed to be built.

However, Nielsen said, to this date the government has not paid the debt. He said Flores had been contracted to facilitate the payment. Flores was offered $100,000 if the deal went through as a result of his efforts, as well as $42,000 for various expenses.

Nielsen said he specifically asked Flores not to do anything illegal to get the money, a request Flores later confirmed in his own testimony.

The trial is expected to continue this morning at 7:30 a.m.

January 14, 2005

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com

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