Mayors' Council: Blas to resign

FEDERAL CASE: Yona Mayor Jesse Mendiola Blas, in white shirt, is escorted into the District Court of Guam by federal agents on Tuesday, Sept. 24 after the federal indictment against him became public. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

Indicted Yona Mayor Jesse Blas was heard in a phone recording played in federal court Tuesday saying he is "very connected" to the Judiciary of Guam.

The former court marshal and Guam police officer, who faces charges of extortion and bribery, was back in the District Court of Guam on Tuesday for a hearing on his request to be released from jail.

The audio was played as the federal prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Sambataro, called FBI special agent Rafael Fernandez to testify at Blas' hearing.

In the phone recording, the mayor is heard scolding his former girlfriend Vickilyn Teregeyo, a local court drug defendant. The mayor served as a third-party custodian for Teregeyo at one point.

The recording was from Teregeyo's phone. Their argument was over an incident at a barbecue.

“Even though we fought, and I slapped you and choked you and threw you around, s--- happens. I still went out to the court for you and said I didn’t want you locked up,” Blas said in the recording. “I am connected to that courthouse and I can make s--- happen. They were pushing to get that warrant out and it had nothing to do with Joey Terlaje.

“You gambled like that. I promise you I will not lose. I don’t flex my muscles. ... The minute you get into the car you become so f***ing rude. And you say you love me?”

The mayor remarked later in the conversation he has better things to do. “OK. I’m done. You can go now,” he said in the recording.

“I’m saying thank you,” said Teregeyo.

“Just don’t! Go about your business,” Blas said.

“I love you, though,” she said.

The FBI agent confirmed it was the couple in the recording.

Teregeyo faces two drug possession cases in the Superior Court. In June 2018, Teregeyo pleaded guilty in federal court to drug use and possession of a firearm and ammunition.

Defense attorney Joseph Razzano told the court that Blas doesn’t pose a threat to Teregeyo, as she has since relocated to Saipan. He also argued the court could set conditions to make sure Blas doesn’t contact her if he is released from custody.

Six others under federal investigation

The prosecution contends there are no conditions that the court could set to allow for Blas' pretrial release.

The U.S. Probation Office previously recommended Blas be released from custody. However, it told the court on Tuesday that it now agrees with the government, stating the real problem is it would be difficult to monitor a defendant in a position of authority.

Attorney Razzano asked the FBI agent who else was at the barbecue when the phone conversation was recorded.

Fernandez said at least six people – including Joey Terlaje – all of whom are under investigation. Terlaje is a former Superior Court marshal and most recently was deputy director of the Department of Corrections. Terlaje resigned a few weeks ago after his alleged association with the Yona mayor surfaced in a court hearing.

The FBI agent testified that Blas hit Teregeyo and Terlaje dragged her into a residence at the barbecue where she was allegedly held hostage for three days.

Razzano said: "It's nothing more than the hearsay statements of a person who violates court orders."

Fernandez said he recently spoke with Teregeyo who expressed she does fear for her safety and felt that no one would ever believe her story about the phone recording. He also testified that he doesn’t believe that the FBI’s confidential source, Brenda, is in any danger, because she is under federal protection.

The defense at one point had Fernandez refer to a confidential plea agreement for Brenda, which he mentioned included a charge of extortion. The government, however, objected to further discussion on the document, as it remains sealed from the public.

Defense: Blas was trying to help

Razzano contends Blas, in the recordings, was only trying to help keep Teregeyo from violating her court conditions.

"It doesn't matter if he is her third-party" custodian, said prosecuting attorney Sambataro. "He told her of the power he had at the courthouse and over her. He was not trying to help her. He admits to hitting and choking her."

The prosecution told the court it is concerned that if the mayor is released from prison he would have access to the government's potential witnesses.

"There are individuals in this community who would give him these connections to commit additional crimes or impact the government's investigation," she said. "This is someone who believes he is above the law. This is someone who should be held pretrial."

Razzano argued the mayor should be released, under certain conditions, as he awaits trial.

Mayor could work from home

"Blas would like to continue to work as mayor," Razzano said. "They are just mere allegations." He suggested that if Blas is released and told to stay away from the mayor's office, then he should be allowed to work from home or with a third-party custodian and deal with constituents by email.

The mayor faces a federal indictment and stands accused of accepting and asking for bribes in exchange for a drug dealing operation's access to mailboxes his office had control over. He has been detained since his arrest on Sept. 24.

Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood said she would issue a written decision later. In the meantime, Blas will remain in custody at the DOC facility.

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