CBF: Drug office used money for $3.5K sofa set, $2K one-day groceries bill



By Eric Rosario

eric@kanditnews.com


(Tumon, Guam) The Substance Abuse & Rehabilitation Program, run by Gov. Ralph Torres's very special assistant Yvette Sablan, used Community Benefit Fund money to travel, to purchase $2,145.35 in groceries from the supermarket on one day alone, and to buy a two-piece gray sofa set from Town House Furniture for $3,597.


These are among the purchases listed in a May 1, 2018 report on the use of CBF money given to SARP on February 23 that year. The report, prepared by program director Esther Y. Milne to then-Secretary of Finance Larissa Larson, details the use of $222,228.27 expended of a total $300,000 Mr. Torres earlier had requested Imperial Pacific International (CNMI), LLC to release to the CNMI government for the substance abuse program.


More than half of the funds expended, $141,617, was reported from the object class category 64520 Improvements.


$12,958 was spent on office furniture and fixtures.


$1,124 was spent on fuel.


$16,020 was spent on supplies.


And this all was within a two-month period only.


In one day alone - March 9, 2018 - SARP spent $2,145.35 on groceries at JoeTen Supermarket, including A1 Steak Sauce, Country Crock Tub Light, boneless pork butt, and so much more.


The report is known as Document 56 among a series of documents related to the CBF disclosed by the CNMI government to the legislative independent minority.


The CBF was statutorily created as a contractual obligation of IPI to the people of the Commonwealth for the remittance of what is supposed to be some $38 million into this fund thus far. According to documents, however, only about $10 million has been deposited. Mr. Torres also relinquished the Commonwealth's control of the money in an early document.


Of note is that this is at least the second renovation and furniture purchase on record between 2016 and 2018 for the very special assistant's office. Kandit reported the first spending spree for the office from expenditures reimbursed to Mr. Torres himself in 2016.


Reimbursement documents show Ms. Sablan purchased $1,221.97 of supplies from Ace Hardware CNMI, Inc. to renovate her office in 2016.

The purchases were purportedly conducted by Mr. Torres, but the reimbursement and receipt documents clearly show that the items would be delivered to Ms. Sablan. The purchases did not go through the procurement process, which makes the use of public money illegal.

But that's not all. A second reimbursement memo shows the governor purchased fireworks for $288 for Ms. Sablan without procurement authority. And a third reimbursement memo shows the Commonwealth hosted a barbecue in violation of the procurement code for Ms. Sablan at a total cost of $246.92.


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