By Johnnie Rosario
(Tumon, Guam) Criminal activity in the Governor's Office is coming to light. On Friday, Kandit exposed Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero's communications director Janela Carrera's theft of government funds. Around the same time of the release of that story, KUAM broke the news and surveillance video of one of Ms. Leon Guerrero's police security guards stealing from Familia Mart in Chalan Pago.
Late Friday the Guam Police Department identified the Guam Police officer as Ryan Gene Guerrero Shimizu, the 49-year-old nephew of former police chief Jack Shimizu. Ryan Shimizu was arrested, booked and released for theft of property lost or mislaid and for official misconduct.
Police Chief Steven Ignacio placed Mr. Shimizu on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
“I want to assure the community that the Guam Police Department holds every employee to the highest standards of professionalism on and off-duty," Mr. Ignacio said. Despite his assurance, we must note the special treatment Mr. Shimizu is receiving: people arrested for theft are normally booked and confined.
Ms. Carrera's case is even worse. She was paid for her personal European vacation between June and July without deducting any personal leave hours. She applied for compensatory time, which she is not allowed by law to accrue. Not only has she not been prosecuted for her crime nor has she lost her job for it, her illegal actions were signed for and covered up.
Her application for the illegal leave hours was approved by Ms. Leon Guerrero's chief of staff, Anthony Babauta.
Her timesheets, which would count those illegal hours toward the two pay periods that covered her vacation would be signed by a timekeeper at the Governor's Office, whose actions also should be under scrutiny.
So should the Governor's Office payroll certification officer, who has a duty under law to certify payroll against illegal actions such as these.
Within the executive branch of the government, there are certain control mechanisms in place to guard against theft of government funds. In the case of Ms. Carrera's vacation pay, someone within the Department of Administration's payroll division signed off on Ms. Carrera's payroll check, even with her leave application indicating the illegal use of compensatory time.
This wouldn't be the first time Mr. Babauta got himself into any trouble. In the June 7, 2014 Washington Post article, Report: Ex-Interior Department official steered federal awards to friends, reporter Josh Hicks wrote:
President Obama's only-Cabinet level official from the U.S. territory of Guam steered federal contracts to friends, engaged in discrimination and sexual harassment, requested and received personal favors from subordinates and benefitted personally from taxpayer-funded trips, according to a watchdog report.
The article goes on to state that Mr. Babauta - the former Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs of the U.S. Department of the Interior - was determined by federal investigators to have directed the awarding of federal grants worth $451,200 against the advice of grant specialists.
Further into Mr. Hicks story about Mr. Babauta's misconduct in public office:
The report said that Babauta, who is married, frequently met with a girlfriend during trips he booked for government business, including a meeting in Arkansas with the state's health department and the Marshallese ambassador. His mistress was in Arkansas at the time visiting with family and doing work for former congressman Vic Snyder (D-Ark.), the report said.
Despite the investigation into Mr. Babauta's crimes and his forced resignation from the Obama administration due to them, Ms. Leon Guerrero selected him to be her chief of staff.
Ms. Leon Guerrero herself is no stranger to misconduct, especially as it relates to clear conflicts of interest she promised during her campaign she would avoid.
On July 25, 2019, the governor sat right next to her son, the president and CEO of the Bank of Guam, and signed over $30 million in bonds to build a new trash cell at Layon directly into the bank her family owns and operates.
We asked Ms. Carrera for weeks prior whether any controls would be put in place to prevent the inappropriate handling of those funds through the task order process from happening while Ms. Leon Guerrero was governor. She said that in the opinion of the administration, there was no conflict of interest.
Months prior to that Kandit tried to question one of Ms. Leon Guerrero's staffers, Darlene Salas, about misconduct on the part of her husband, seaport employee Paul Salas, and whether she was involved in receiving any illegal remuneration from the conspirators, who planned the witch hunt firings of seven port employees.
Kandit had exposed a series of secret recordings of Mr. Salas and his supervisor at the time, former port safety administrator Frank Roberto. The recordings provide clear evidence of Mr. Salas and Mr. Roberto's part in a conspiracy with former port legal counsel Mike Phillips to dispose of evidence and to falsify documents during an active investigation into Mr. Phillips and then-port general manager Joanne Brown regarding their misconduct in the infamous Port 7 case.
Part of these recordings included an admission by Mr. Salas that he and Ms. Salas's son was hired at the port as a reward for their role in covering up the port administration's illegal firing of the seven workers.
The Civil Service Commission recently found that the port management was at fault for the firings. The fired employees are expected to be compensated for the losses they have suffered through since the firings in December 2012.
Despite the revelation of the secret recordings, Ms. Leon Guerrero's appointee to the deputy manager seaport position, Connie Jo Brennan Shinohara, who was responsible for the investigation into the firings, has not brought any charges against Mr. Salas (Mr. Roberto no longer works there) or anyone at the seaport who had a part in the illegal conspiracy.
In fact, she has colluded with Mr. Phillips and seaport board member and Inarajan mayoral candidate Anthony Chargualaf, Jr. to prevent justice from happening in the case.
Ms. Leon Guerrero's silence and participation in misconduct at the highest levels of government slowly is being revealed by island media and by whistleblowers. Despite the public outcry for her to fight corruption, so far, she has dug in her heels and provided special treatment and protection for herself and for those who are "In."