By Troy Torres
(Adelup, Guam) The governor will make a statement about her cabinet member, Joey Terlaje, when she's ready, according to her director of policy, Carlo Branch.
Mr. Terlaje has been implicated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the corruption and drug trafficking case against his former colleague and close associate, Yona Mayor Jesse Blas. Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero appointed Mr. Terlaje to be the deputy director of the Department of Corrections in January.
In an interview with Kandit News Group this morning, we asked Mr. Branch for Ms. Leon Guerrero's reaction to the accusations of corruption and drug trafficking by her hand-picked cabinet member. "The governor will issue a statement on this matter when she's ready," Mr. Branch said.
Regarding FBI testimony that Mr. Terlaje was part of the illegal detention of a woman known to Mr. Blas by Mr. Blas in his home, Mr. Terlaje said he had nothing to do with the act, but that he was there when the woman was being detained illegally. Even if that were true, Mr. Terlaje then would have to answer for misprison of felony charges for being aware of a felony crime and not reporting it.
We asked whether Ms. Leon Guerrero will ask Mr. Terlaje for his resignation in light of the evidence against him. He repeated the same answer, "The governor will issue a statement on this matter when she's ready."
Mr. Terlaje is the son of Senator Jose "Pedo" Terlaje, who is the former mayor of Yona, a retired police officer, and the senator with oversight power of the island's local law enforcement agencies. Mr. Terlaje is a retired high-ranking deputy Marshal at the Superior Court of Guam. So is Mr. Blas.
Since October last year, the federal government has been building a series of cases through a grand jury in Hawaii secretly being run by assistant United States Attorney Rosetta San Nicolas from Guam. The federal investigation, led by the FBI, is centered around public and police corruption.
Mr. Blas and Mr. Terlaje's former colleague, deputy Marshal Alan Ecle, also is the subject of this investigation regarding his abuse of office leading to the sexual enslavement of some of the women under court-granted probation. Mr. Ecle's nephew is former U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency task force officer Jimmy Manglona. Mr. Manglona is a Guam Police officer, who recently was removed from the task force because of the federal investigation into his abuse of power.
Mr. Blas plead not guilty to the charges read against him in federal court yesterday. The court ordered that he remain in custody and detained on Guam. The charges against him and the investigation into Mr. Terlaje and others runs so deep that federal prosecutor Laura Sambataro asked the court to order Mr. Blas's removal from Guam as he awaits trial. The prosecution wants to prevent Mr. Blas from communicating with Mr. Terlaje while he is detained at the agency Mr. Terlaje helps to run. Federal Magistrate Judge Joaquin Manibusan, Jr. instead ordered both Mr. Terlaje and prison director Samantha Brennan to avoid any communication with Mr. Blas.
What happens with Yona now?
Mayors Council of Guam executive director Angel Sablan told Kandit in an interview this afternoon that he will assume the administrative responsibilities of the mayor. "I'll be the one to review and scrutinize the spending and sign the time sheets," Mr. Sablan said.
The executive officers of the Mayors Council, led by council president Dededo Mayor Melissa Savares, this morning discussed how the Mayors Council will move forward with the vacuum of leadership in Yona. "We are asking the attorney general for an opinion to clarify the law," Mr. Sablan said of the statute involving mayoral vacancies. Mr. Sablan said that Mr. Blas's detention obviously means he's unable to perform his duties as the mayor, but that it is unclear who determines when a mayor is unable to perform his duties, and who declares a vacancy.
The law, according to Mr. Sablan. says that a special election for mayor must be held within 60 days of the declaration of a vacancy in the office of mayor.
Mr. Sablan said there has been no indication from Mr. Blas whether he will resign his office. He also said the Mayor's Council is unaware of any other mayor, vice mayor, or staffer who is under investigation or part of the crimes alleged against Mr. Blas.
He also confirmed that in a raid of the Yona Mayors Office, federal investigators seized every computer terminal within the office.