Who is the Guam Police Department officer who allegedly threatened the federal government’s confidential source in the bribery case against former Yona Mayor Jesse Blas?
That unanswered question was brought up again in testimony by federal informant Brenda Kinian during day two of Blas’ sentencing hearing. Kinian testified virtually in the District Court of Guam on Friday.
The former mayor faces up to two decades in federal prison after he admitted taking bribes in exchange for the use of cluster mailboxes under the jurisdiction of the mayor's office. The mailboxes allegedly were used for drug distribution.
On Friday, defense attorney Joseph Razzano objected to Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Sambataro's questioning after she asked Kinian about the unnamed GPD officer who made the alleged threat.
“I think that the court can hear Ms. Kinian’s statement and decide whether or not to believe her statement. Your Honor, frankly, how would this officer know about her dealing with the mayor?” said Sambataro.
Defense counsel Razzano countered: “Your Honor, that is eight levels of speculation. ... How can you possibly infer that this person knew anything about the mayor?”
The officer was never publicly identified, but the cop's alleged actions, along with former Department of Corrections Deputy Director Joey Terlaje’s alleged dealings with Blas, had been mentioned early on in the case by federal investigators.
“We are not using this to establish some kind of (sentencing) enhancement on Mr. Blas’ part. But, (Kinian) was relocated after this incident happened,” Sambataro said.
The federal prosecutor started to share concerns about public corruption on the island when Razzano cut her off.
“You know what I am concerned about, Judge?” asked Razzano. “The United States comes into this courtroom with no evidence and no ability to say who this person is and wants you to accept it as true.”
The court allowed Kinian to discuss her encounter with the officer before the testimony was ultimately tossed out by Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood.
“He came in his uniform. He told me do not get the mayor in trouble. He said the mayor is from Guam and I’m not from the island,” Kinian said. “I feel that I am not safe. I don’t mind about myself, but I mind about my children. I spoke to the agent and they moved me from there.”
Kinian remains under federal protection off island.
Razzano argued that the testimony was irrelevant to the bribes for which Blas is being sentenced in court.
Bribe money for medical
The prosecution also played more of the undercover audio and video recordings.
“I’m so sorry, I was trying to get the money today,” Kinian said in a monitored call placed on March 21, 2019. “I cannot able to get the money.”
“It’s OK. Just let them know we are going to close the box,” Blas said. “You can’t get any mail. Starting tomorrow, no more mail.”
“You can’t at least leave it open? I already give you a lot of money for that,” she said.
“Uh, no. Because we made an agreement. I told you already that I need help. Now I have to find another way to take care of my medical. I owe them so I have no choice but to shut it down,” Blas said. “When you have the money, you call me, and I reopen it. I suggest you tell them don’t send anything until I get something. Give me at least $8,000 so I can keep these people away from me and pay my medical.”
“I’ll try my best,” Kinian said.
“At least by tonight or tomorrow, then I close the box,” he said.
Blas previously told the court he has a heart condition after suffering two heart attacks over the past several years, and that prior to his arrest, a doctor confirmed he has a deteriorating disk and a hole in his spine that continues to expand, Post files state.
Recordings and messages from other interactions between Kinian and Blas were played in the courtroom on Friday that had been captured in the months prior to the ex-mayor telling Kinian that he would shut down her mailbox.
More drug packages
A video recording from Jan. 12, 2019, detailed how Kinian asked for another cluster mailbox, as she and Blas discussed potentially bringing in more drug packages to include cocaine.
“You have another one?” Blas said in the recording.
“Yeah,” Kinian said.
“Yeah. I can, but can you pay me for it, though?” he said.
“Ok. How much do you want?” she said.
“A mailbox goes for about $15 (thousand),” Blas said. “Can you do that?”
“Yeah,” Kinian said.
“Right after $15 (thousand). No more. You don’t have to pay me no more,” he said. “Rather you give all of it and that way we never see each other.”
“OK,” she said. “Sorry I came in late today.”
“No problem. I was worried because I read the newspaper that they found someone trying to send into Yona two packages. They catch it but they don’t know who. They stopped it at the post office,” Blas said.
“That’s not mine,” Kinian said.
Blas could be heard telling Kinian that they could change out the mailbox every week to avoid getting caught by authorities.
Kinian reported back to the FBI agents each time she would meet or speak with Blas.
Blas told her he would close her mailbox about two months after that recorded call.
Blas is scheduled back in court next week for his continued sentencing hearing.
The defense will now get to ask Kinian questions when the hearing resumes Jan. 12.
“After hearing the testimony yesterday and today the court could vary outside of the guidelines,” said Tydingco-Gatewood. “The testimony being heard by this witness is damning if I believe it all.”