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NEWS: Adelup back dated letters sent to FEMA; original letters not disclosed

By Eric Rosario

New documents disclosed to Kandit News regarding the illegal procurement of hotels show that Adelup back dated letters designating four hotels as quarantine/isolation facilities, then failed to disclose the original letters the governor had signed, which were dated March 30, 2020.

On May 7, 2020, and in response to a request for documents surrounding the hotels, governor's director of communications Janela Carrera disclosed a series of emails among Adelup and Civil Defense officials, and the financial officers of the government. Disclosed from the emails were four letters - one each to the Pacific Star, Wyndham Gardens, Days Inn, and Hotel Santa Fe - signed by Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero and bearing the digital signature of public health director Linda DeNorcey.

The letters designated the hotels as the quarantine/isolation facilities for incoming travelers at the start of the public health emergency. The hotels would end up being paid millions of dollars from the procurement, the record of which shows no price quote, purchase order, request for direct payment, or any type of paper trail indicating the hotels were not arbitrarily and illegally chosen. The Pacific Star Hotel has a $32 million 2016 mortgage with the Bank of Guam, the bank Ms. Leon Guerrero's family owns. The person who conducted the procurement for the hotels was her son in law and legal counsel, Haig Huynh.

The letters Ms. Carrera disclosed were dated March 18, 2020. That was the date the quarantine of incoming passengers began on Guam, first at the Wyndham Gardens, Days Inn, and Hotel Santa Fe. The Pacific Star Hotel would first be used days later.

In a March 18 release from Adelup and the Joint Information Center:

"Based on information published by the Philippine national government, Guam is expecting an influx of passengers from the Philippines. In preparation for this, GovGuam has instituted COVID-19 Mandatory Quarantine Protocol (MQP) measures for all incoming travelers from the Philippines effective immediately."

The disclosure of those letters led media, senators, and the public to believe that on March 18, the governor and Ms. DeNorcey had signed and issued the letters designating the hotels, letters that the head of Civil Defense said were sent to the federal government as part of a process for the reimbursement of funds used to lease and operate these facilities.

The use of Ms. DeNorcey's signature also became an issue of scandal. Among the emails disclosed were a train on April 1, 2020 between Adelup staffers June Borja and Laurie Tumaneng regarding the placement of Ms. DeNorcey's digital signature on the letters. At 5:07 p.m. that day, Ms. Borja requested, upon instruction from governor's legal counsel Sophia Diaz, for Ms. Tumaneng to insert Ms. DeNorcey's signature on the letters dated March 18. At 5:30 p.m., just 23 minutes later, Ms. Tumaneng replied with the letters bearing Ms. DeNorcey's signature. Following the public disclosure of the letters, Ms. DeNorcey said she did not approve the use of her signature for those letters, and that she did not recall receiving a phone call from Adelup to request the use of her signature.

The emails Adelup disclosed indicated an update of letters from March 18 signed by the governor to include Ms. DeNorcey's signature.

But there were no letters created March 18, when the use of the hotels began. The designation letters actually would not be created until 12 days later, on March 30.

Kandit on Monday sent a separate FOIA to Ms. Borja asking for the same documents regarding this issue. Ms. Borja responded today, disclosing other parts to the email train and letters dated March 30 that Ms. Carrera did not disclose.

Ms. Borja's disclosure shows the origins of the letter from Mr. Huynh, who forwarded an email (where he had asked financial officials to make advanced payments to the hotels) to Ms. Borja and Ms. Diaz with the draft language of what would become the designation letters. He sent that email at 2:23 p.m., March 30. By 4:02 p.m. that day, Ms. Borja had done as she was told, and emailed the prepared letters to her boss, Mr. Huynh. At 4:22 p.m., he replied:

"thanks. please print for Gov signature... dont send to those folks... instead scan and send to me only"

The attachments to that email disclosed by Ms. Borja show the designation letters dated March 30 - on the day the letters actually were created - and signed by the governor.

Kandit has asked governor's chief of staff Jon Junior Calvo, along with Ms. Carrera, the governor, lieutenant governor, Krystal Paco, Mr. Huynh, and Ms. Diaz in an email why Adelup did not disclose these letters and why Adelup had the letters back dated.

"In addition to the previously cited 10 GCA 10108(i), the documents you are referring to are unpublished drafts that contain errors," stated governor's spokeswoman Ms. Paco in response. "Therefore, these documents should not have been subject to FOIA and were never transmitted outside of the drafting process."

Despite Ms. Paco's assertion, Civil Defense administrator Charles Esteves told Kandit that the letters were, in fact, used.

"They were used to get pre-approval for non-congregate shelter reimbursement," Mr. Esteves said. The letters he said, were sent to the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, and "included with the request for non congregate shelter."

They were not draft letters.

Neither Ms. Paco nor the other Adelup officials have answered why the March 18 letters disclosed by Adelup were back dated to March 18, when the record clearly shows the documents were created on March 30.

We also have called Mr. Calvo several times, and he has refused to answer.

Kandit must note Ms. Borja's transparency in providing these previously undisclosed documents. You may review her entire disclosure below:

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