NEWS: Ralph Torres's Mini-me

By Nancy I. Maanao

[email protected]

(Tumon, Guam) A review of receipts for reimbursement from the Governor's Office reveals Ralph & Diann Torres and Yvette Sablan were not the only people benefitting from illegal expenditures charged to the Commonwealth; so was Mr. Torres's bodyguard, Joey Cruz.

On May 8, 2017, the same day Gov. Ralph Torres checked out of the Hyatt Regency Saipan from a four-night stay, he submitted a reimbursement memo approved by then-Secretary of Finance Larissa Larson. The memo lists a May 1, 2017 transaction receipt in the amount of $61.60 for room service at Room 812.

But the governor's room, according to the Hyatt receipt was 9008, and he was not even checked into the hotel until May 3, 2017. The credit card used to pay for the transaction, an American Express ending in 1009, belongs instead to Mr. Cruz, who stayed in Room 812 on May 1. Mr. Cruz received the food, Mr. Torres charged it to the Commonwealth, and the taxpayers footed the bill.

The same credit card number appears for the reimbursement of money paid to D&W Saipan, Inc. for a change of tires amounting to $250 for what is described in the July 16, 2016 reimbursement memo as "Governor's Vehicle LP# AEA 752." The Hyundai Genesis is a personal vehicle. This same license plate is listed in a gas receipt Kandit previously reported on. In this instance again, Mr. Torres was paid money by the taxpayers for a purchase he didn't make.

The charge with the most glaring similarity to Mr. Torres's penchant for shopping appears in Mr. Cruz's American Express credit card statement he submitted for reimbursement of official travel expenses. In it is an October 15, 2017 transaction at Sportsman's Warehouse in Meridian, Idaho, the same hunting gear shop, where Gov. Torres made similar purchases for hunting knives and other hunting supplies and food and charged the Commonwealth for it. The taxpayers reimbursed Mr. Cruz $466.50 for the purchases on his card.

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