Special prison accommodations have been made for indicted Yona Mayor Jesse Mendiola Blas, 57, at the Department of Corrections.
Though he's facing federal charges of extortion and bribery in connection with alleged drug activity in his village, The Guam Daily Post confirmed Thursday Blas is being held in the local side of the Hagåtña Detention Facility, in a cell separated from the rest of the population and in an area near corrections officers.
He has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him in the District Court of Guam.
DOC officials have said that they typically keep high-profile detainees, to include law enforcement personnel placed under arrest, away from the rest of the detainee population for their safety.
Blas is allowed to make phone calls only to his defense attorney.
May not contact Joey Terlaje, DOC Director Brennan
U.S. marshals also are restricting Blas’ contacts at the request of the assistant U.S. attorney assigned to the case. A custody alert was issued to DOC when Blas was confined. It states that he is to have no contact with DOC Director Samantha Brennan and DOC Deputy Director Joey Terlaje.
Brennan is off island.
Terlaje resigned from his post on Wednesday, following testimony in the District Court of Guam from FBI agent Rafael Fernandez that Terlaje and certain local marshals at the Judiciary of Guam had been involved in alleged dealings with the mayor. Terlaje hasn’t been charged. He hasn’t responded to multiple requests for comment.
The governor selected Guam Police Capt. Joe Carbuillido to serve as acting prison director until Brennan returns.
Mayor allegedly beat girlfriend and held her hostage
During Blas’ arraignment hearing on Tuesday, FBI agent Fernandez testified that investigators learned of the alleged acts involving the mayor from a cooperating defendant who had been in a romantic relationship with Blas.
He said the woman alleged the mayor assaulted her and on one occasion punched her hard in the face, dragged her into a residence and held her hostage for at least three days.
Fernandez referred to that woman, who now lives in Saipan, as the initial complainant.
She was not identified in court.
“Had someone not come forward, then we would’ve never known about the drugs,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Sambataro said during this week’s hearing.
‘Defendant is pregnant with Mr. Blas’ child’
However, court documents at the Superior Court of Guam and the District Court of Guam reveal that the mayor was in a relationship with drug defendant Vickilyn Teregeyo, 29.
Teregeyo faced federal charges on Guam but now lives in Saipan.
Teregeyo, who has two active drug possession cases in local court from 2016, was the mayor's girlfriend. Court documents state Blas served as her third-party custodian for a couple of months in 2017 before he relinquished his responsibility.
“The defendant is pregnant with Mr. Blas’ child,’ court documents state, as U.S. Probation reported that the mayor was unable to serve as a third-party custodian in her federal case.
In August 2018, Teregeyo was temporarily released to give birth, but probation learned that she used meth prior to delivering her baby. The newborn also had drugs in its system, court documents state.
Teregeyo also had a federal case in which she pleaded guilty in June 2018 to being a drug user in possession of a firearm and ammunition.
Teregeyo remains on three years' supervised release in Saipan.
FBI agent implicates Guam police officer
The FBI agent also mentioned drug convict Lovelia Mendoza, who was sentenced to eight years in prison after she pleaded guilty in federal court to possession with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine.
The mayor is accused of entering into an agreement with an informant, identified as Brenda, who posed as a drug dealer. Blas allegedly agreed to receive about $15,000 in bribes in exchange for allowing some of the village's postal cluster mailboxes for use in drug trafficking, according to court documents.
Fernandez said the mayor threatened to close Brenda’s mailbox if she didn’t pay him upward of $15,000. He also testified Brenda was confronted at her home by a Guam police officer who told her she would be in trouble if she lied to the mayor.
GPD chief wants name of officer
“It's a bad reflection on the Guam Police Department,” said acting GPD Chief Maj. Manny Chong. “There’s an allegation of one officer being involved.” Chong said he was unaware of the identity of the unnamed officer the FBI agent referred to in his testimony.
“This is the first time we heard of an FBI investigation. But we are not going to sit back and wait for information to come to us," he said. “We’ve reached out to the FBI to see if there is any information they can release to us. If there is an investigation that we need to start, then we will start it. Right now, we are working on it.”
Blas remains the mayor of Yona.
He is scheduled to go to trial on Dec. 2. Blas can be removed from his elected office if he's convicted of a felony or if two-thirds of Yona residents who voted in the last mayoral election sign a petition to recall him from office.
Mayor had 2003 misdemeanor
GEC Executive Director Maria Pangelinan confirmed Thursday the election commission was aware of Mayor Jesse Blas’ 2003 case in which he pleaded "no contest" in a harassment case. He pleaded to a petty misdemeanor. While someone who is charged with a felony does not qualify to run for public office, Blas' case in 2003 "was a petty misdemeanor,” Pangelinan said.