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) When we last left off on Chapter 7, the Travel Authorization for former Port marketing director Bernadette Meno had made its way to Adelup for approval.
Because Ms. Meno had been a target of Adelup and Governor Calvo for some time, they asked Port Board Chair Dan Tydingco and Port legal counsel Mike Phillips to look into the matter to see if they could find anything to use against Meno.
Both Tydingco and Phillips then began the biggest political witch hunts in the history of our government - the case of the Port 7.
And the work Tydingco and Phillips did immediately after the Adelup marching orders was filled with numerous violations of law. Their actions have been the subject of numerous complaints with local law enforcement, prosecution and ethics. One of the most recent complaints was officially submitted to Attorney General Leevin Camacho on March 22, 2019. In the complaint for violations of 5 Guam Code Annotated Chapter 8 notes that Attorney Phillips and Dan Tydingco as well as Joanne Brown held numerous illegal board meetings in violation of the law. Their meetings were held in secrecy at Phillips law office and all decisions made during those illegal meetings are subject to being voided. There are also criminal charges that can be filed against them for their actions.
The complaint to the AG for violations of 5 Guam Code Annotated Chapter 8 states: “Clearly their illegal meeting was held in order to hold discussions and make decisions out of the view of the public in clear violation of our Open Government Law.”
The complaint includes emails from Mike Phillips and Dan Tydingco to the board members calling for the illegal secret meetings. There was no public notice of the meetings and the public was not aware that the board was meeting and making decisions in secret. The complaint indicates that the illegal secret meetings occurred on the following dates:
· October 19, 2012 at 11am at the Law Office of Phillips & Bordallo
· November 27, 2012 at 12pm at the Law Office of Phillips & Bordallo
· December 10, 2012 at 12:30pm at the Law Office of Phillips & Bordallo
· January 24, 2013 lunchtime location not disclosed
Included in the complaint is what’s known as the “Gravedigger” email from Dan Tydingco. In that email on October 18, 2011, he emailed the then Port Board members and said “There’s a need for us to meet tomorrow at Mike Phillips’ office at 1100 hours…” One Board member responded and asked “Do we need a priest, referee, fireman, videographer?.” Tydingco responded “How about a gravedigger.” Not only was Tydingco convening an illegal board meeting but it’s clear that their intentions at that time was to bury the employees. Ruin them. Tydingco had already decided the fate of their employment and had already decided to ruin their lives before they even finished their investigation.
As if that’s not enough evidence of the crimes of Tydingco and Mike Phillips, the criminal complaint attaches an actual confession from Mike Phillips. During a public radio interview on Newstalk K57 held on March 20, 2019, Port Legal Counsel Attorney Michael F. Phillips admitted that he held secret meetings at his office. In the recording you can hear him admit to hosting illegal board meetings and he brags that he is familiar with the law because he represents a defendant in the GHURA board criminal case of which they are accused of committing the exact same crimes. Attorney Phillips admits they held meetings at his office, that they had a quorum, that they discussed matters relating to the board and that they did not have any meeting minutes from their meetings. However, he said they did not vote on any matters and, as such, draws the conclusion that their actions were not illegal.
Besides illegal board meetings, fabricating evidence and lying about what actually happened, the attorneys involved in this matter on behalf of the port violated the rights of the Port 7.
When this case began, John Bell was just a paralegal working for Mike Phillips (he later passed the bar and got a law license). John Bell repeatedly violated the constitutional rights of the employees in the port 7 case.
During his investigation, Bell intentionally tricked all the employees into thinking they were assisting him. He even told them he was just trying to help the Port in its efforts to get Bernadette Meno the medical attention she needs via the Workers Compensation Commission. When he was done with his witch hunt he took all of their emails that they sent to him when he was asking them for information and twisted their words around and used the emails and correspondence to fire the employees. He even submitted their statements to the local and federal authorities. AND LIED ABOUT IT AS WELL.
Garrity Rights protect public employees from being compelled to incriminate themselves during investigatory interviews conducted by their employers. This protection stems from the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which declares that the government cannot compel a person to be a witness against him/herself.
For a public employee, the employer is the government itself. When questioned by the Port, the employees were being questioned by the Government and so the Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate themselves applied.
Garrity Rights are similar to the Miranda warning. And not only was what Mike Phillips and John Bell did unethical, it was criminal as well.
“The Port should have informed the employees at the start that they were investigating in order to ascertain whether misconduct had occurred and if disciplinary action is warranted and having such employees sign a Garrity statement or Garrity Advisement or Garrity Warnings—which they failed to do,” one attorney involved in the case said. “I’ve never seen such an egregious violation of the civil rights of government of Guam employees before in my entire career.”