EDITOR'S NOTE: Kandit, as promised, brings to you this chronological series on the Port 7 scandal. This story of public corruption and political intrigue is the largest and longest-running political witch hunt in the history of the government of Guam. The story begins during the first year of the Eddie Calvo administration in 2011, and continues to this day. We are producing this investigative piece because of the age of this story and the many twists and details involved.
CHAPTER 1: It started with the blow of a whistle
CHAPTER 2: 'I was sent here to fire you'
CHAPTER 5: The infamous slip and fall
By Troy Torres
(Tumon, Guam) This is the part of the story, where trouble for Bernadette Meno, Vivian Leon, and five other seaport workers, the general manager at the time, and one board member starts.
Adelup finally was able to latch onto something that would stick for nearly eight years now.
The first five chapters of this story were set in 2011, from March 14, when then-seaport marketing manager Bernadette Meno and then-corporate services manager found out about the YTK scandal involving the new governor's family, to September 22, when Ms. Meno slipped and fell in the restroom on the second floor of the administration building and fractured her spine.
Between those dates, the duo raised a flurry of problems for then-Gov. Eddie Calvo's administration and family; they had investigated and exposed two corrupt multimillion dollar land lease scandals: YTK and Cabras Marine. The Calvos and their surrogates - seaport deputy manager Anisia Terlaje, legal counsel Mike Phillips, and board members Dan Tydingco, Mike Phillips, and Ed Ilao - were onto the women. Adelup was looking for a way to end them.
Then Chapter 6 happened - the September 22, 2011 slip and fall. The procedures that the Port Safety Office took with regard to Ms. Meno’s accident were the same procedures they took for prior Port workers compensation cases. And when the accident happened, Ms. Meno was not aware of the extent of the injuries the fall had caused her spine. She was sore and in some pain but did not go see a doctor that day. But then her Lupus began to flare and she was out of commission from work and out of the loop, leaving Ms. Leon to do what she could to continue uncovering the truth.
Ms. Meno saw her doctor on Guam more frequently for the flares and was able to finally get her Lupus under control but then was struggling with extreme back pain. She took her son to the Philippines over the summer for a medical procedure and while there she paid for an MRI to find out why her back was hurting so badly. It was on June 18, 2012 that the doctor in Manila explained to her the extent of the damage to her spine from the fall. Then the rheumatologist explained that the intense pain and trauma from the back injury was most likely triggering her Lupus flares. And since the flares would cause nearly-unbearable pain throughout her body, she was never able to localize the pain for the doctors prior to the MRI, because everything hurt at different times.
Chapter 7 - this chapter - follows the time between the accident and the afternoon that Ms. Meno's paperwork to claim on that accident and receive medical treatment makes it to Adelup. This is when Mr. Phillips and Mr. Tydingco consolidate their power at the seaport. This is when Pedro Leon Guerrero, Jr. is replaced as general manager by Mary Torres in February 2012, and when Ms. Terlaje continues her campaign to become the GM and get rid of her nemesis, Ms. Leon. This is when two new members are confirmed to serve on the board: Shelly Gibson and Christine Baleto.
This also is the chapter of the story I'm most familiar with, because I was involved. And for that, I forever will be sorry and throw myself at the mercy of these nine victims, who did not deserve what happened to them from this chapter on.
On Wednesday, October 17, 2012, Rose Ramsey - the governor's acting chief of staff at the time - was reviewing documents from agencies throughout the government to initial her clearance when she came across a travel authorization from the seaport that seemed odd to her. It was past 5 p.m., when she called me into her office.
"Troy, what the fuck is this?" she asked me, as she threw a small stack of documents held together by a binder clip on my lap, when I sat across her desk at Adelup. I was the director of communications at the time, and she thought that since I worked with Bernadette Meno that I would be aware of the contents of the documents.
The front page of the stack was a routing sheet that bore the names, positions, and initials of several seaport officials who had signed off on the enclosures. It was a Travel Request and Authorization (TA in government speak), one of the several types of documents routed through the governor's office before final approval of expenditures could happen.
Ms. Ramsey did not typically review documents such as these. Her full-time position was governor's deputy chief of staff. It was our superior, Franklin Arriola, who was the chief of staff and who had normally reviewed these documents. He had suffered a heart attack prior to this day and was out on leave, ironically.
For Ms. Ramsey and for me, there was nothing unique about this TA, except for the amount represented in it - about $70,000. It was the TA sending Bernadette Meno to Hawaii for spinal surgery, as recommended by the doctor authorized by the Workers Compensation Commission to to evaluate Ms. Meno's work injury stemming from the September 22, 2011 slip and fall.
"I have no idea," I told Ms. Ramsey after skimming through the documents.
"Look at the amounts, have you ever seen anything like that?" Ms. Ramsey asked me.
I hadn't and that's because I'd never seen a workers compensation travel authorization before.
It was the per diem (the daily allowance the government gives to its workers for each day of business - or in this case, medical attention and recovery - a worker spends off island for an official reason) that caught my attention, and hers.
"Is this the per diem rate for the port," I asked her.
"I don't think so and I tried to call Mary [Torres] but she's in the air right now and I really don't want to call that fucking bitch Anisia [Terlaje]," Ms. Ramsey replied.
Ms. Ramsey detested Ms. Terlaje's presence in the government.
She found her to be an incompetent, loud-mouthed liar, who used her political connections through the late-Jerry Calvo and his brother, former Gov. Paul Calvo, to land her job in the Calvo cabinet.
She considered her an idiot and a leech on the administration.
We agreed that the per diem seemed odd and that we were unfamiliar with the medical costs portion, so it was best to wait for Ms. Ramsey to get in contact with Ms. Torres to find out whether the figures were accurate.
Neither of us had any idea that only two months prior, the Port had submitted another workers compensation travel authorization for a port employee who had been injured.
His TA also had the same high amount of per diem – a mistake that the human resources employee admitted that she made on both employee Travel Authorizations as she did not normally prepare these documents as she also was filling in for her boss who was off island. The TA with the same high per diem was approved at the port, routed to Adelup and signed off on August 17, 2012 by Frank Arriola.
No red flags were raised for that employee’s travel authorization and it was because his name was not Bernadette Meno. We should note that the situation involving this other TA is important because those documents clearly show that Port Attorneys Michael Phillips and John Bell intentionally lied to the board, lied to the Civil Service Commission and lied to federal authorities about what transpired. As you can see from the other employee’s travel authorization that was signed off by the Port and Adelup, he was given a per diem rate in his Travel Authorization based on federal per diem rates … just like Ms. Meno. The error on that TA was captured by Miami Ulbernario at the Port prior to her releasing the check and she cut the check for him at the correct amount and never told Ms. Arriola about the mistake she had made.
So attorneys Phillips and Bell lied to everyone when they said the same mistake was not made on the previous travel authorization for another employee.
And that was just once instance of many where attorneys Mike Phillips and John Bell lied, altered documents, twisted the facts and accused these port employees of crimes that never happened. The attorneys and the Chairman Dan Tydingco intentionally used this false information as one of the reasons the Port 7 were fired and placed the false information in their termination documents below. They also intentionally submitted this false information to the FBI.
Around 11 p.m. that night, Ms. Ramsey called me as she had nearly every night whenever she was the acting chief of staff to go over lingering issues. She told me she had briefed the governor on the issue, the governor had directed her to call Ms. Terlaje, and she did so begrudgingly.
"Troy I just spoke with the governor and he wants me to call Anisia," she said. I asked her what that would accomplish, since Ms. Terlaje clearly had signed off on the TA. "I don't know, Troy," she sighed, "but now I have to talk to this bitch." We hung up with each other and she called me back 10 minutes later.
"She [Anisia] told me that it's a legit claim and something about Fabuloso in the bathroom, and then I told her 'I don't give a fuck about all that, Anisia, what I'm asking you about is the amount of the per diem!'" Ms. Ramsey said to me on the phone, recounting the conversation she just had with Ms. Terlaje.
"Just send it back and have them adjust the per diem to whatever it's supposed to be, then, Rose," I replied. "This is simple."
She told me she would take care of the matter in the morning and try to get a hold of Ms. Torres and Mr. Tydingco. We spent the rest of the conversation going over other policy matters, then ended the call.
By the time we hung up the phone and called it a day, neither of us knew that a simple clerical error entered by a human resources worker who was filling in the job for someone on leave would lead to everything that was about to explode the following morning.