Superseding Indictment Made In Guam ‘Blue House’ Case
By Geraldine Castillo
HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, Nov. 27, 2012) – The three police officers accused of involvement in the Blue House case, along with the owner and a former lounge supervisor, now face over two dozen felony and misdemeanor charges in a second superseding indictment that was filed yesterday in the Superior Court of Guam.
The second superseding indictment contains new additional charges against Guam Police Department officers Anthony Quenga, David Manila and Mario Laxamana, as well as lounge owner Song Ja Cha and former employee Freda Eseun. All suspects previously were charged with 19 crimes but now face a total of 26 charges in the Blue House prostitution case.
Among those new charges are nine counts of kidnapping; nine counts of felonious restraint; attempt to compel prostitution; two counts of aggravated assault; assault; and criminal facilitation.
Quenga, 43, faces new charges of first- and second-degree criminal sexual conduct in addition to previous charges of attempted first- and second-degree criminal sexual conduct. The charges involve a single victim.
Manila, 51, still faces two counts each of first- and second-degree criminal sexual conduct involving two victims.
The three policemen were arrested around Nov. 16 and 17 as the result of an ongoing investigation into their department regarding police officers' involvement in the Blue House Lounge where owner Cha forced young women from Chuuk into prostitution. Cha, who was convicted in federal court of several sex trafficking crimes, is serving a life sentence. Testimonies by victims of Cha revealed that certain police officers frequented the lounge, and that Cha would claim to use her connections with police and threaten to have the girls arrested if they escaped.
Motion to dismiss
Yesterday morning in Superior Court, Judge Anita Sukola heard the policemen's defense attorneys' arguments on their motion to dismiss the charges, but took the motions under advisement. The two pending motions to dismiss are based on the 48-hour rule violation and the running of the statute of limitations.
The attorneys argued that their clients were not brought before a judge within 48 hours of their arrest. Attorney Peter Perez, who represents Laxamana, stated there were two options under the 48-hour rule – which was for a defendant to be presented to a judge within 48 hours of his arrest, or to be issued a notice to appear in court. Because neither option was sought, Perez believed the violation merits a dismissal with prejudice, which means charges against his client cannot be brought up again in this case.
Attorney William Pole, who represents Manila, echoed Perez's argument, adding his client was unnecessarily held, especially if there was no emergency to explain the delay in being brought to court. Pole also argued that if the court was not going to dismiss the charges, then the court should release the officers.
Meanwhile, prosecutors contend that the statute of limitations has not expired. According to Guam law, the statute of limitations for all felonies is three years, and one year for misdemeanor charges. The alleged crimes occurred in a period between January 2006 and January 2008, which is nearly five years ago. In a memorandum in opposition to Quenga's motion to dismiss, prosecutors cited a section of Guam law that "extends the statute of limitations for any offenses based on misconduct against any officer or employee of the government of Guam while that officer or employee continues his employment or within three years from the date of his separation from the government."
The prosecution claimed that Quenga was still employed by GovGuam as a police officer, thus the statute of limitations has not run for the crimes charged.
"The government is free to indict the defendants with any offenses based on their misconduct while employed by GPD and those charges are not barred by the limitation period," stated Assistant Attorney General Nelson Werner in the memorandum.
Despite presenting arguments for nearly an hour, Judge Sukola decided to take the motions under advisement.
All defendants are due back in court tomorrow at 9 a.m. for an arraignment based on the superseding indictment, as well as a criminal trial setting. Because some of the police officers asserted their right to speedy trial, Judge Sukola also set their trial date to begin Jan. 2, 2013.
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