Court spends $156K in rent on empty building owned by justice's - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Court spends $156K in rent on empty building owned by justice's brother

Posted: Updated:

The Judiciary of Guam has spent $156,000 to rent an empty building that belongs to the brother of a Supreme Court justice and will spend millions more before the lease is up. 

The Judiciary of Guam has paid $156,000 in rent for an empty building since April 2017 as part of a 30-year lease on the property that used to be owned by the Catholic Church.

The property is now owned by Supreme Court Justice Bob Torres' brother Chris Torres' company MEC, LLC.

In April 2017, the courts entered into a 30-year-lease with the Archdiocese of Hagatna.

Then acting administrator of the courts Hannah Gutierrez Arroyo signed off on the lease - which sitting Lt Gov. Josh Tenorio helped negotiate.

Tenorio was the court's administrator at that time.

"Acquiring that property was a good deal for them operationally, now im not sure what happened the last couple years," he said.

According to Land Management documents, MEC LLC - owned by Chris Torres - bought the building from the Church in July 2018 for a cool $2 million in cash.

MEC inherited the lucrative lease, which has escalating rent terms - meaning the rent gets more expensive every five years. The courts will pay $144,000 a year for the building until 2022. During the last five years of the lease from 2042 to 2047, the rent will be $221,364 a year.

KUAM News did the math - by the end of the lease, the taxpayers of Guam will have paid $5.2 million in rent with just about all of that money going to the brother of a sitting Supreme Court Justice.

At the end of the lease, MEC will have more than doubled the $2 million they spent to buy the building.

We asked Judiciary spokesman Shawn Gumataotao if it was a conflict of interest for the Judiciary to pay $5 million in rent to one of their judges' brothers.

"For us, we were leasing the building from the Archdiocese of Agana," he said. "If they had made any purchase, any changes to the ownership that was pretty much on them. The new owners are now honoring the lease that we entered into, so it was just a continuation of that."

Gumataotao says the plan is to eventually move the courts' probation services division to the building while the old courthouse is being restored, but that hasn't even happened even though the lease was signed two years ago. Gumataotao blames the architects and the courts' cash crunch.


"I think that there was a large delay in when we first started this project with drawings," he said. "Basically the architectural drawings to get the place up to code and to be able to move the entire or at least most of the division over so the delay's really in the drawings themselves caused the big delays in getting the project underway."



In the meantime, for now, the courts are basically paying $12,000 a month for some parking.

"We've been working for just over a year or so now trying to get drawings done," Gumataotao said. "We've had some hiccups in trying to get, making sure that place is secure, obviously we are now using it for parking."

While the lease is for 30 years, it's very likely the court may buy the building from Justice Torres' brother, Gumataotao added.

"It's in the footprint of the judicial center now so it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility that we could actually purchase that building," he said.

It should be noted the Archdiocese waived the buildings' rent for a year, citing considerations for the court's need to renovate the site. However, the court did not do any renovations during the first year of the lease.

  • NEWS HEADLINESMore>>

  • Park restrooms must be assessed before contractors begin maintenance

    Park restrooms must be assessed before contractors begin maintenance

    Our tourists come to Guam to see the sights of Guam. Unfortunately, our park restrooms provide an unwanted smell. The Department of Parks & Recreation has recently awarded an invitation for bid contract for the maintenance of the 15 public parks controlleMore >>
    Our tourists come to Guam to see the sights of Guam. Unfortunately, our park restrooms provide an unwanted smell. The Department of Parks & Recreation has recently awarded an invitation for bid contract for the maintenance of the 15 public parks controlleMore >>
  • Man wanted in Minnesota for child porn headed stateside

    Man wanted in Minnesota for child porn headed stateside

    A man wanted in Minnesota will be transferred to the state. Today he consented to an order requiring his appearance in federal court there. Gary James Dokulil was picked up in the Philippines and was brought to Guam. It was in November of last year a fedeMore >>
    A man wanted in Minnesota will be transferred to the state. Today he consented to an order requiring his appearance in federal court there. Gary James Dokulil was picked up in the Philippines and was brought to Guam. It was in November of last year a fedeMore >>
  • Passengers held briefly after airport fuel spill

    Passengers held briefly after airport fuel spill

    Guam Environmental Protection Agency spokesperson Nic Lee said they were called to the Guam International Airport Authority this afternoon to respond to a report of an oil spill. Airport spokesperson Rolenda Faasuamalie says 20 gallons of fuel spilled neaMore >>
    Guam Environmental Protection Agency spokesperson Nic Lee said they were called to the Guam International Airport Authority this afternoon to respond to a report of an oil spill. Airport spokesperson Rolenda Faasuamalie says 20 gallons of fuel spilled neaMore >>
Powered by Frankly