EVICTION COSTING GUAM TAXPAYERS $14,000 DAY

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By Theresa Merto Cepeda

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Feb. 28) - The relocation of the attorney general's office is costing taxpayers $14,380 a day. Some cases also have been pushed back because of uncertainty over where the office can move.

It is costing taxpayers about $14,380 a day to pay 75 employees at the attorney general's office, most of whom are concentrating on packing up and moving out of the Guam Judicial Center instead of working on hundreds of unresolved and new court cases.

Five people were not magistrated yesterday and four cases will not be brought before the grand jury this week because of the eviction of the attorney general's office from the Hagåtña building, Attorney General Douglas Moylan said.

Although the attorney general's office closed its doors to the public and will remain closed today, a handful of cases were still magistrated and two criminal cases went to trial yesterday, including a government corruption case against former airport Executive Manager Gerald Yingling. The AG's office plans to resume normal operations tomorrow from the governor's conference room in Adelup.

"Our standard is ... whether they are posing a danger to a community," Moylan said, on how his office is determining whether to charge a new case despite not having any office space. "But we have no guarantee that we are actually going to indict them. Right now, we are dealing with case-by-case, short-term solutions. We still don't have a permanent location as of this time."

The attorney general's office has had to vacate the space it occupies on the second floor of the judicial center after the Judicial Council brought the AG's office to court to have it evicted.

But despite the move, the AG's office is managing to bring charges on new cases that pose a threat to the community, according to Deputy Attorney General Basil O'Mallan.

There were eight arrests over the weekend, but five suspects were released because of the eviction of the AG's office.

The cases that involved the suspects being booked and released were two DUIs, one DUI and leaving the scene of the accident and two misdemeanor family violence cases, O'Mallan said.

"Normally, we would have gone forward with these cases. But there is too much chaos at this time. We need to just handle the most emergency situations," O'Mallan said. "Basically, we are looking at the people that we view as a continuing threat, those we are going forward with."

O'Mallan said the AG's office was able to magistrate two aggravated assault cases, including a stabbing case, and a first-degree criminal sexual conduct case. But Moylan said the office may not have sufficient resources to bring these cases before a grand jury within the 10-day period.

"We are very concerned about how thin this office's resources are spread, and most of our case files and office equipment, as well as furniture, now, have been disassembled, boxed," Moylan said.

O'Mallan said the office had planned to bring seven cases before the grand jury this week, but will work on only three cases. He said he could not disclose which cases the office plans to indict.

Meanwhile, most employees at the AG's office were concentrating their efforts on moving yesterday instead of working on cases.

"There (are) about 75 employees that are in the main office here, not 50 that I previously thought. And we calculated their salary for one day, and it is up to $14,380. So that is what every day of this shifting us from working on our assigned duties to moving and being stagnant is costing the taxpayers," Moylan said.

Besides the dozens of attorney general's office staff, other government of Guam employees also helped to move the AG's office from the judicial center to Adelup. The AG's office will temporarily work out of Adelup until it finds new office space, using the $250,000 emergency declaration that Gov. Felix Camacho and Lieutenant Governor Kaleo Moylan signed last week.

"Right now the procurement has just been cleared, so we are getting the quotations for the office spaces," Moylan said. "There (are) three respondents to the request for emergency office space and that was the Bank of Guam which owns the former Pedro's Plaza, and Edward Terlaje's company, which holds the Union Bank building near the Legislature and Ada's Commercial Center. It is currently going to be reviewed by the General Services Agency."

March 1, 2005

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com

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