All but one of the former Department of Corrections officers who were arrested and charged for their alleged part in smuggling meth, cellphones and other contraband into the facility they were sworn to guard will be charged with official misconduct.
Official misconduct is a misdemeanor.
Why would the Office of the Attorney General agree to reduce charges from felonies down to a misdemeanor?
The AG’s office responded, in part, that these deals can lead to stronger cases against other bigger players in the illicit drug trade on Guam.
“Prosecution’s mission is to prosecute drug crimes so we can stop the flow of drugs into Guam," the AG's office stated. "This may mean that we enter into cooperation agreements with defendants who may lead us to stronger cases against major drug dealers who are responsible for injecting this poison into our community. If defendants refuse to cooperate, we will prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.”
No bar on rehiring after misdemeanor
The Guam Daily Post also asked whether it's possible for the former prison officers to be rehired after cutting plea deals and after they were charged as part of a drug-smuggling operation in the Mangilao corrections facility. A similar question was posed to DOC Director Samantha Brennan who was not able to respond as of press time.
Guam Federation of Teachers union representative Robert Koss said while smuggling contraband "isn’t something that is accidental or unknowing," having a misdemeanor conviction doesn’t eliminate the possibility of a government job. GFT has represented DOC officers in previous employment cases but Koss didn't represent the former DOC officers accused in the alleged conspiracy.
“Just because you’ve been fired before doesn’t mean you can’t be rehired,” Koss said. "Agency heads can overlook discretions."
Former judge and senator turned Tall Tales talk show host Robert Klitzkie said he's unaware of any statutory prohibition of GovGuam hiring anyone convicted of a misdemeanor, though there are prohibitions for hiring individuals convicted of sex crimes.
In Superior Court this week, Judge Anita Sukola acknowledged and accepted a plea deal struck by former DOC officer Franklin Rosalin.
Rosalin's attorney told the court the defendant has agreed to plead guilty to official misconduct with all other charges to be dismissed. The judge commented: “Ai, AG … OK. I will give you a change of plea."
Rosalin and fellow former DOC officer Fermin Maratita were in Sukola's courtroom on Tuesday.
Maratita pleaded guilty in November 2017 of receiving bribes and possessing methamphetamine while employed as a guard at the Adult Correctional Facility in Mangilao.
He agreed to cooperate with the government in the prosecution of the other suspects in the alleged contraband-smuggling conspiracy at the prison. He now awaits sentencing for higher charges, while his former colleagues face misdemeanors.
The two were among a group of former DOC officers, maximum-security inmates and others accused in a conspiracy to smuggle drugs and other contraband into prison.
Former DOC Lt. Jeffrey Limo and former corrections officers Edward Crisostomo, Gerry Hocog, and Jerome San Nicolas also were arrested and charged in connection with the conspiracy.
Maximum-security inmates Bruno Simmons and Shawn Paul Johnson, as well as civilians Ronald Meno, Roxanne Hocog, Paul Lynwood Johnson and Liana Cabrera were also charged in the smuggling conspiracy.
They are accused of accepting bribes and helping coordinate the smuggle of crystal methamphetamine, cellphones and other contraband into prison, Post files state.
Following the arrests made in the alleged conspiracy, legislative staffer and Chief of Staff for the senator currently overseeing public safety, Charissa Tenorio, was arrested on felony charges for allegedly threatening to kill a woman who allegedly provided information that led to the discovery of the conspiracy at DOC. Tenorio admitted to imprudent driving in exchange for the government dismissing the felony indictment against her.