By Jacob Nakamura
Oops she did it again! Senator Telena Nelson has had at least two staff members with federal court convictions on her payroll at the taxpayers expense!
After weeks of Senator Telena Nelson criticizing the Port Authority for hiring employees with criminal records, Kandit News has confirmed that Senator Nelson had two staff members on her payroll last year with convictions in the U.S. District Court.
Sources inform Kandit that Nelson asked another senator to put one of the employees, Bernice Rivera, on their staff as Nelson was considering running for congress and did not want the media to find out about her hiring a woman convicted of embezzling money from a bank.
At the time Senator Nelson had these two individuals on her staff during the last term, she only had 8 total employees.
That means 25% of Senator Nelson’s legislative staff were all convicted criminals.
As we reported last night, Senator Telena Nelson has on her staff right now Renee Pope. According to court records, Pope was convicted in U.S District Court of Guam of Larceny and Entering Military, Naval, or Coast Guard Property. She pled guilty to the crimes and was sentenced to 36 months federal probation on each charge to be served concurrently. Senator Nelson’s staff member was released from federal probation in 2002.
Our research shows that in the first fiscal quarter of 2020 which was in the last legislative term, Nelson had on her staff both Pope and Bernice Rivera.
Rivera plead guilty in 2013 to Misapplication of Bank Funds in violation of Title 18 USC Section 657. Rivera admitted to embezzling thousands of dollars in funds from Coast 360 while she worked there. Federal prosecutors asked for a sentencing enhancement for abuse of position of public or private trust. At the time of the crimes, Rivera was the treasurer for Guam Crime Stoppers.
Senator Telena Nelson’s staff member was sentenced to time served and two years of supervised release. She was also ordered to pay a special assessment fee, perform 50 hours of community service and write letters of apology to Richard Northy, Chief Executive Officer, Coast 360 Federal Credit Union and to all the board members of Guam Crime Stoppers, Inc.
Last week Senator Nelson blasted the Port for having employees who have criminal records. She even issued out public releases calling for an investigation, review, audit and justification for hiring anybody with a criminal record at the Port. Senator Nelson said she was shocked with people being hired with tax dollars who have criminal records. “While I continue to have confidence in the Port’s merit system, we must listen to the concerns of our community and ensure that our government is hiring qualified workers deserving of the taxpayer’s dime. An additional audit of the Port will help us understand the Port’s hiring process and the measures they take to provide our people the gold standard of public service," Senator Telena Nelson said.
Senator Nelson has yet to explain what her “gold standard” is for public service when she herself hires staff at taxpayer’s dime who have criminal records.