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BLOOD MONEY: Brennan out; cases forwarded to AG for prosecution

By Jacob Nakamura

(Tumon, Guam) Chief of Police Stephen Ignacio, in an exclusive interview with Kandit News, confirmed that the two criminal complaints filed against the owners and operators of Liberty machines and the owners of two businesses in violation of the Gaming Control Act.

On November 6, 2019, justice advocate Jesse Mendiola entered the King's Restaurant in Harmon and saw that two Liberty machines licensed to Guam Music, Inc. were in full operation while children were in the restaurant. This is a direct violation of the Gaming Control Act; a crime punishable as a misdemeanor for the owners and operators of King's Restaurant and Guam Music, Inc.

Two days later, Troy Torres walked into the New Kim's Laundrymat in Maite and found six of the same types of machines licensed to Atlas Amusement Enterprises in full operation while one little girl was there.

Both men filed criminal complaints against Guam Music, Inc. and its owners, Atlas Amusement, and the owners of King's and the laundrymat.

Atlas and Guam Music are the only two licensees registered with the Department of Revenue and Taxation for the operation of all the Liberty and similar poker-style machines on Guam. The Gaming Control Act states that if a licensee is found to have violated the Gaming Control Act, the DRT should suspend or revoke its gaming license.

Since both of the only two licensees have violated the Gaming Control Act, it is possible that both may lose their licenses to operate these machines. And since the law is clear that no new machines may be licensed, the revocation of these licenses would spell the end of the poker-style gambling industry on island.

Kandit News has since filed a criminal complaint seeking license revocation to the director of DRT, based on the November 6, and the November 8, criminal complaints filed by Mr. Mendiola and Mr. Torres, respectively.

Carlina Charfauros, spokeswoman for the attorney general, confirmed to Kandit that the AG has received the complaints.

Mr. Ignacio said it is now up to the AG to determine whether to issue warrants of arrest, indict, and prosecute the criminal parties involved. He added that the matter is made a bit sensitive legally because of the ongoing litigation in the Superior Court regarding the gambling machines.

A hearing in that case was held before Judge Arthur Barcinas December 5. The court is expected to issue a ruling in the matter after hearing from the parties involved.

One of the criminal parties involved in the Mendiola complaint is Connie Jo Brennan Shinohara, who abruptly resigned her position from the seaport as its deputy general manager this morning.

Seaport general manager Rory Respicio made the announcement at this morning's meeting of the port's board of directors.

As Kandit News previously reported, Ms. Shinohara had resigned weeks ago under public pressure, then rescinded her resignation letter to the governor last month.

It is unclear whether the impetus for her final decision to resign today is related to a vague statement issued by the attorney general last week regarding allegations of misconduct on the part of government officials, since Ms. Shinohara is named in the criminal complaint by Mr. Mendiola, and now that the complaint is with the AGO.

Mr. Respicio said he does not know whether the two issues are related, and he is unaware whether Ms. Shinohara is under any investigation.

Ms. Shinohara's resignation surely was known by the Leon Guerrero administration prior to this morning, as her choice for a replacement already was waiting literally in the room during the seaport board meeting. Board member Anthony Chargualaf also had a prepared written motion, complete with the paygrade level, on the board's hiring of the replacement: Luis Baza.

Mr. Baza, until yesterday, was the the chairman of the Civil Service Commission. He has executive experience with seaport partner Cabras Marine, worked for LSG, and held several government positions throughout his career.

The seaport board unanimously approved Mr. Chargualaf's motion to hire Mr. Baza to replace Ms. Shinohara.

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