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By Mark-Alexander Pieper

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Jan. 5) – Former Governor Carl Gutierrez once again was indicted by a Superior Court grand jury, this time on charges in connection with his role as administrator of the Guam Memorial Hospital.

Gutierrez, along with former hospital Comptroller John Pangelinan, who were both indicted yesterday, allegedly allowed the hospital administration to deduct retirement contributions from hospital employees' paychecks and did not forward the money to the Retirement Fund.

Gutierrez and Pangelinan's indictment marks the third time that certifying officers have been indicted on charges of withholding Retirement Fund payments to cover other expenses at their respective agencies.

Gutierrez, then governor of Guam, assumed control of the hospital as acting administrator in June 2000 after declaring a state of emergency at the facility.

The pair is alleged to have committed the acts between June 22 and November 14, 2000, according to court documents. They were each charged with felony conspiracy for misapplication of entrusted funds, felony conspiracy for failure to pay wages, and other misdemeanor charges.

The Pacific Daily News left a message at Gutierrez's home answering machine, but the former governor could not be reached for comment. Gutierrez, who was governor from 1995 to 2002, plans to run again for governor in the primary election this November, according to an announcement made by his running mate, Senator Benjamin Cruz.

Pangelinan, who is now with the Bureau of Budget Management and Research, had not been notified of the indictment until he was called by the Pacific Daily News for comment yesterday.

Pangelinan said he worked to keep the hospital open and serve patients through dire financial straits.

"I did the best I can and if they want to indict me then so be it, but at least no one died on my watch," he said.

In 2000, the hospital saw sagging revenues, a US$7.7 million tax debt, a serious nursing shortage and nonpayment by a major health maintenance organization and indigent health programs, according to Pacific Daily News files.

That year the hospital cut its pediatric intensive care unit and elective surgery services and, at one point in May, there was less than US$19,000 left in the hospital's bank account when it needed an average of US$5.4 million a month to operate, files state.Pangelinan said indicting certifying officers who are trying to keep critical public institutions operating while they are in dire financial straits sets a bad precedent.

"You think about it, you start indicting certifying officers based on trying to do their mission," he said. "I didn't profit on this, I worked hard to try to keep that place open."

January 5, 2006

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