By Johnnie Rosario
(Tumon, Guam) The allegations against Joseph and Janine Guevara that Mr. Guevara would hold permits ransom until developers agreed to deal exclusively with his wife - a real estate agent - has raised the attention of the Guam Real Estate Commission, according to sources close to the commission.
"That's illegal," the real estate agent said.
The Guam Real Estate Commission and the Department of Revenue and Taxation are the regulatory bodies that have rules and protocols in place to monitor and investigate impropriety in the real estate profession. The commission can sanction real estate agents and brokers, revoke their licenses, and refer criminal matters to the Attorney General.
For years, Janine Guevara sold real estate under the Landmark Realty banner. Ms. Guevara's husband, Joseph Guevara, was the government official who would approve the inspections and permits of developments that would be listed, marketed, and sold exclusively by his wife.
They made a fortune from the scam. This happened for years.
The Guevaras may have had some help from another regulatory body - the Department of Land Management. The permitting process for developments includes several government agencies, the most bureaucratic of them being the Department of Public Works, where Mr. Guevara was the permits administrator, and DLM, where the Guevaras's good friend, Marvin Aguilar, was the territorial chief planner.
Mr. Guevara resigned in December 2019 from his position in the government after DPW director Vince Arriola opened an investigation into his misconduct. A few months prior to that, Mr. Aguilar had resigned from his position.
"Joe was the guy who was wheeling and dealing with the developers," another real estate agent told Kandit. "It was happening for years, but the developers also had to deal with Marvin over at Land Management and those two were the ones who made things happen or said 'no.' Everybody knows in this business that there was funny business going on."
Mr. Aguilar now is the campaign treasurer for Janine Guevara's senatorial campaign bid under the Democratic banner.
"It is not clear that contractors involved with Mr. Guevara were complicit with his activities," Mr. Arriola said. "It is possible that they were simply victims."
Mr. Arriola was responding to follow-up questions from Kandit about the contractors involved in the developments of the properties he would approve for development, then his wife would sell.
"Other real estate agents would ask these Chinese developers if they could market and list their properties and these poor guys would tell us, 'no, I'm sorry, but Joe said we have to give it to his wife,'" one broker told Kandit on condition of anonymity. "It's more than just Joe. If any of them find out I'm saying anything about this, they'll (government regulators) retaliate against me. But a lot of the brokers know this."
"They have been doing this for years," the broker said, referring to the Guevara racket.
The Guevaras had some help, though. Ms. Guevara's brokerage firm, Landmark Realty, proudly advertises the political connections Ms. Guevara's association brought to their operation.
The company directly markets its competitive advantage (in violation of the Anti Trust Law of Guam), not to homebuyers, but to developers who would need to navigate DPW's exhaustive regulatory bureaucracy - a bureaucracy that for years ended with the signature of Landmark's agent's husband. The opening lines of its website for services state:
"Landmark Realty Group provides coordinated developer/agency services that leverage local market intelligence and established relationships to achieve maximum occupancy levels for client properties and to quickly secure buyers for developers or individual home sellers. We provide market exposure for the property, build the developer's image, and create a marketing strategy that attracts and retains quality buyers."
Landmark marketed directly to developers
"Landmark Realty Group specializes in helping companies to maximize the value of their real estate development and to align development and marketing strategies to better match their overall business goals.
"We can assist the client in analyzing their entire development. We have helped clients decide what real estate assets they need to support their businesses or meet their investment goals, how best to structure their portfolios, execute any necessary transactions, and manage the assets themselves."
"Landmark Realty Group is one of many real estate brokerage operations and has earned its reputation in real estate transactions by arranging the sale, purchase or lease of office, industrial, multi housing, retail and hospitality sites, and commercial land."
Landmark sold itself to developers for the value of its relationship with the Guevaras
"Our superior research capabilities support these efforts by providing market surveillance that assures first-hand knowledge of - and insights into - market activities that may affect property in the present and future. Our qualified professionals combine this knowledge and real-time market intelligence with smart negotiation skills." (emphasis added)
Landmark Realty Group is owned by Bobby Sachdev. He has not returned our calls for comment.