GHURA: Subpoenaed documents missing

GHURA: The Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority office is shown in this file photo. GHURA informed the attorney general and U.S. attorney for Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands that it has had difficulty locating documents, leaving GHURA unable to comply with subpoenas in pending cases. Post file photo

The Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority has informed the attorney general and U.S. attorney for Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands that it has had difficulty locating documents subpoenaed from the agency.

Specifically, emails were not retrievable from a primary account, and up to three CDs containing documents requested in past subpoenas and supporting documents were missing from the files of the primary custodian of records, according to letters from Deputy Director Elizabeth Napoli.

Staff members were able to source out some missing emails from secondary accounts and had backup copies of the information contained in the CDs, allowing them to restore the record, Napoli said.

But certain pages of a legal services contract pertaining to a former GHURA counsel are missing from the official records, the letters state.

The current GHURA commission was notified of the issue during a meeting on Monday. The documents date back to previous administrations at GHURA, Napoli said.

"We are looking. We're finding things, but they're not normally where it would have been easier to find it," she added. "There are still some things that we're trying to figure out if we do have the information."

Former GHURA commissioners and staff are the subject of criminal prosecution at the local and federal courts on Guam.

Allegations of Open Government Law violations against several former commissioners are ongoing at the Superior Court of Guam. Some of their defense lawyers have submitted subpoenas to GHURA. Former Executive Director Michael Duenas has pleaded guilty to conspiracy as a misdemeanor in the local case.

Meanwhile, a federal housing fraud case against a former GHURA attorney resulted in mistrial. A motion was submitted to dismiss the indictment at the District Court, but it was denied and that decision was affirmed by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Joseph Cameron, a current GHURA board commissioner, questioned on Monday whether there could be any malfeasance regarding the now-missing or difficult-to-find records.

"Is there reason for me, or this agency, to believe that something illegal had occurred in the almost abolishment of records? Is there a legal concern here?" Cameron asked. "You can't just wish upon a falling star that things just disappear. Something is wrong."

Anthony Perez, the current GHURA attorney, said the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has previously executed search warrants, which came prior to these cases being brought up, and took all of the information out of GHURA computer servers and files. "HUD has everything regarding GHURA, not even related to this case, on their files, on their servers.

"I don't see this as an issue at all," he added. "I wasn't there back then, but I recall even when I came back onboard around 2013 or 2014, GHURA was providing information pursuant to subpoenas ongoing for years, way before any criminal matters were happening. And GHURA has always complied with everything. HUD has done a complete investigation of everything."

Perez was referring to records going back to 2011. The court cases were brought on years later. If the 2011 records were missing, Perez said he did not know why.

"They may not even exist," he added. "But I would be very shocked to hear if there was any destruction of records during that time period, because nothing was happening to warrant any concern for any GHURA employee to start destroying records."

Napoli said that even if HUD had the information, it isn't the one searching for it. She said GHURA is having difficulty finding the information, even though it should have been easy to extract from the previous primary point of contact at her agency.

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