Former Guam Policeman Testifies In Blue House Trial

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Laxamana, previously a defendant, corroborates workers’ stories

By Gina Tabonares-Reilly

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, August 30, 2013) – Former Guam Police Department Officer Mario Laxamana yesterday testified against his former colleagues David Manila and Anthony Quenga, who are facing kidnapping, prostitution and criminal sexual conduct charges in connection with the Blue House case.

Laxamana, who was indicted with Blue House owner Song Ja Cha, Manila, Quenga and two former waitresses – Freda Eseun and Saknin Weria – became a government witness after entering a plea agreement with the government.

Laxamana, who resigned from the police force after his guilty plea, testified with Manila and Quenga against Cha before the federal court. Cha was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.

He was the prosecutor’s 11th witness and told the jury that he and his colleagues, especially Manila and Quenga, would check Blue House at least three times a week either to respond to a call or to check randomly.

Laxamana said he was a PO1 at the time while Manila was a PO2, and Quenga was a PO3, which means the two were higher in rank, taking the lead, and normally driving the police vehicle.

Laxamana told the jury that he never went to the brothel by himself, and that he was always with either Manila or Quenga.

"I’m only a rider – the senior officer usually drives and leads," Laxamana said.

Close relationship

The ex-cop said that of the two policemen, it was Quenga who had a close relationship with the Blue House owner.

"The way they converse, it’s different. It seems that they know each other very well," Laxamana said, referring to Quenga and Cha.

Laxamana corroborated previous testimonies of the Blue House former workers that Cha threatened the girls in the presence of the policemen.

"Mama-san (Cha) would tell the girls that if they don’t listen to her, she would call the police and the police will put them in jail," Laxamana said.

Laxamana said he also heard Manila telling the girls to listen to Cha or they will be arrested.

When asked if threatening the girls was correct behavior or whether he would have arrested the girls because they were not listening to the boss, Laxamana answered "no" and admitted not doing anything because he was not aware it was illegal.

Laxamana added that he heard Cha several times telling her workers to make customers happy and confirmed there was prostitution going on in Blue House.

"How did you know there was prostitution in Blue House," Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Quan asked.

"Because I saw some customers and Blue House girls coming in and out of the rooms fixing their clothes. I’m suspecting they were having sex," Laxamana said.

The former cop testified that he never saw Manila or Quenga going inside the VIP room, but heard Manila talk while in a police precinct parking lot that the cop had sex with one of the workers of Blue House.

He said Manila was talking to Quenga and other police officers when he overheard the conversation.

Passports

When asked whether he was aware that the girls’ passports were being held against their will by Cha, Laxamana said he was told by the owner that she kept the passports because she needs them for their health certificates.

Laxamana told the jury that he also heard Cha telling the girls that they cannot leave until they pay for the money she paid for the girls’ passports and plane tickets "or else they will be arrested by the police."

Laxamana said he witnessed one occasion when Cha asked the girls to sign a piece of paper in his presence. He said Manila and Quenga were also present.

"As a police officer, is it a crime not to pay back a debt? If the girls did not pay for their passport, will you arrest them?" Quan asked Laxamana, who answered: "I don’t know, I didn’t know if it’s illegal."

On the night of Jan. 13, 2008 when police raided Blue House and started their investigation on the prostitution charges, Laxamana said he did the preliminary investigation but failed to put in the police report that there was a case of unlawful restraint. "I am not aware of it. I heard about it, but I failed to put it in my report and I did not tell my supervisor either," Laxamana admitted.

"Before you arrested Cha, did you believe there was prostitution?" Quan asked. Laxamana answered "yes." However, Laxamana said he did not put this in the police report because during that time he was not aware that it was illegal.

Cross-examination

Manila’s counsel, Attorney Terence Timblin, cross-examined Laxamana and told him that some of the previous witnesses testified that they saw him go inside the VIP room and one of them testified that she had sex with the witness.

"Are you saying they were lying?" the lawyer asked. Laxamana said "yes."

The witness also denied threatening one worker not to give Cha a headache or she will be arrested.

Timblin then mentioned the plea agreement that Laxamana signed with the government wherein he entered a guilty plea on charges of voluntary servitude.

Laxamana said he doesn’t really understand the meaning of the charges and that he just pleaded guilty to the offense.

Timblin went on to ask Laxamana if he agreed with Manila and Quenga to commit the offenses of kidnapping, conspiracy to compel prostitution, felonious restraint, and official misconduct. The witness answered "no."

Quenga’s lawyer, Attorney Slyvia Stake, then grilled Laxamana on whether he actually witnessed somebody engaging in sex inside Blue House, to which he said "no."

When asked whether he was just assuming things, Laxamana said "yes."

Laxamana also told the jury that he was not aware whether the girls were under-paid or whether they could not leave the establishment.

He also said the cops never had any agreement that they will help the brothel owner. However, Laxamana believes that Cha took advantage of the cops’ presence in her club.

10th witness

The whole-day trial yesterday started with another female worker of Blue House, identified as "A.T.," who was one of the four sisters recruited by their father to work in the lounge.

A.T. told the jury that she was 20 years old when she started working at Blue House.

She said it was her auntie who paid for her ticket and lied to her, telling her she will work in a restaurant.

The waitress recalled her first encounter with Quenga when the cop forced himself on her.

She said it was a painful experience. So when Quenga asked her again on another occasion to go to the private room, the waitress lied to the cop and told him she was busy with other customers.

The witness said Quenga ended up having sex with another girl that night. However, on the third time that she was asked by the cop, A.T. said she just went ahead and had sex with Quenga but refused to give him oral sex.

A.T. said when she refused to give the cop oral sex, Cha scolded her and asked her why she didn’t do a good job on Quenga.

"She scolded me, slapped me, and I was crying because she was cussing [at] me," A.T. said in Chuukese.

A.T. confirmed that the cops frequented the bar in their uniforms, with their badges and firearms.

She said when Quenga went with her inside the VIP room, the cop was with his badge and gun. She added that the cop would always pay with his credit card.

The witness also testified that she got pregnant while working at Blue House and had to stop working toward the end of 2006.

She said she remembers the names of the two cops as "Tony" and "Mario" but only remembers the other cop as "the fat guy."

When asked by Attorney Stake if she remembers seeing a scar from the legs of defendant Quenga, A.T. said she cannot recall because it was dark inside the VIP room.

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