Lawmakers probe search warrant details - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Lawmakers probe search warrant details

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by Nick Delgado

Guam - During today's oversight hearing of the Guam Police Department, lawmakers spent a significant portion of their time focusing their discussions on who knew about a search warrant obtained by the agency's Criminal Investigation Division to raid the KUAM Studios in Harmon two weeks ago.  GPD management denied having any involvement in the affidavit that was drafted to obtain the search warrant, from Acting Police Chief Ricardo Leon Guerrero, to former CID Operations Bureau Chief Captain Kim Santos and former CID Operations Chief Lieutenant Joe Carbullido.

All said police weren't even aware of the Privacy Protection Act of 1980, which forbids law enforcement from executing search warrants on news organizations.  But former police chief Paul Suba had a different story to tell.

"Actually," he said, "it was conferred with, with [Jim] Mitchell [GPD's legal counsel]. And I believe the captain was aware of the substance of it."  Senator Ray Tenorio inquired as to when it was conferred, to which Suba replied, "Prior to, obviously". 

When Tenorio and Senator Adolpho Palacios said, "That's not what we just heard," Suba said, "No, no, I was there when they were discussing the investigation itself...and Mr. Mitchell was instructed to work with the AG's Office to get a hold of him and this was witnessed."  Sen. Palacios then asked, "At any time was the former bureau chief of CID [Captain Santos] consulted then?," with Suba replying, "What I'm getting at is it's a two-edge sword...we're talking about circumstances and we're talking about leaks."

Although Captain Santos initially said she was not aware of the KUAM search warrant, she changed her story later - saying it was mentioned briefly during a meeting.  "In this meeting at the Chief's Office present was the chief, our acting chief of police now, Jim Mitchell, the operations chief and myself and Dr. Ron McNinch," she stated for the committee.  Senator Palacios then asked if McNinch, a University of Guam public administration professor, was or is a sworn officer.  

"Ron McNinch is an honorary chief of police," Captain Santos said.  "He's also a volunteer with the Guam Police Department and he is the post director."

"But this is a police investigation and now you're bringing up some element that this is police investigation sensitive, is he accessible to those kind of things?" asked the Democrat. "Yes," replied Santos, "I trust, yes, he is."  Further asked if McNinch is a sworn police officer, Suba interjected and replied, "They are sworn as honoraries, they are sworn-in by the chief of police."

Captain Santos also told lawmakers the Attorney General's Office was aware of GPD seeking a search warrant, as an officer happened to see an assistant AG on their way to see the judge about it.

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