by Mindy Aguon
Guam - The prosecution called its eleventh witness to the stand in the Blue House trial Thursday afternoon. Co-defendant Mario Laxamana sat at the witness stand, testifying against two of his fellow police officers as part of a plea deal that will keep him out of jail in exchange for his cooperation.
Officer Laxamana testified against two of his fellow brothers in blue this afternoon, detailing how Officers David Manila and Anthony Quenga, both his supervisors while assigned to the Tumon-Tamuning Precinct, frequented the Blue House Lounge several nights a week to respond to calls for police service or to drop-in and do a check of the establishment.
Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Quan asked, "What did you hear [former Blue House Lounge owner Song Ja] Cha say to the girls?", to which Officer Laxamana replied, "They say if they don't want to listen to her, she will call the police and the police will put them in jail."
Laxamana testified that he heard Cha make those statements in the presence of Manila and Quenga. "Did you ever hear Manila or Quenga say something similar to the girls?" Quan continued, with Laxamana confirming that he did. "He say to the girls [sic], 'Listen to Mama San - if you don't listen to Mama San if she call the police, the police they will put you in jail,'" he said.
Laxamana claimed he heard the two men say that to the workers of the Blue House on more than one occasion. The police officer pleaded guilty back in March to felonious restraint as a 3rd degree felony and official misconduct. But during cross-examination by Manila's attorney, Terry Timblin, it was evident the witness wasn't sure what charges he pled guilty to as he denied holding any of the girls against their will at the Blue House.
Timblin questioned, "Do you know what involuntary servitude means?, with Laxaman saying, "Not really." "Even though you didn't understand it, you still pled guilty to it - is that right?" Timblin asked, with laxaman replying, "Yes sir, I guess."
The officers, along with Cha, are charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping, compelling, promoting and abetting prostitution, criminal intimidation and criminal facilitation. But laxamana said he wasn't aware of any conspiracy.
During direct examination, Laxamana said he wasn't aware of Quenga ever having sex at the Blue House but testified he overheard Manila talking about one day after briefing outside the precinct. Laxamana said, "He [Manila] said I had sex with one of the employees of Blue House." Asked if Quenga said anything, the officer said, "I didn't hear any answer, sir." Quan then asked, "Did you hear any other part of the conversation? Did you ask him about that?", which Laxamana said he did not. When asked why not, "I'm not aware sir, that's illegal."
The officer admitted that despite believing prostitution was occurring at the Blue House, he never did anything about it until after the case broke wide open and he interviewed some of the workers.
And despite various witnesses' testimony during the trial, Laxamana denied ever going into a VIP room, having sex with any of the workers or threatening the workers with arrest for disobeying Cha.
Attorney Timblin asked, "Earlier in the trial Saknin Weria said you did both that they would be arrested if they didn't obey Mama San and that you went into the VIP rooms. Is she lying?" Laxamana said, "Yes, Your Honor [sic]. " Timblin asked, "Also, Kina Choiter said basically the same thing that you told them and some of the girls that if they ran away they'd be arrested and that you would also go into the VIP room with one or more of the girls. Is she lying?" "Yes, sir," Laxamana responded.
In exchange for Laxamana's testimony, the government has agreed to seek a suspension of the four years behind bars. The officer has already indicated he intends to relocate to the U.S. mainland once he has complied with all of the conditions of his plea agreement.
The trial resumes on Friday afternoon.