Quichocho to investigate alleged cop involvement
by Mindy Aguon
Guam - Just a day after the Guam Police Department disclosed details about their review of alleged police involvement in the Blue House Lounge prostitution case, the police chief announced today the man he has tasked with conducting an independent investigation. An FBI National Academy graduate who also previously served as GPD's officer in charge of the Internal Affairs Division has been tapped to conduct an independent investigation of police officer's alleged involvement in the establishment's operations.
Police Chief Fred Bordallo announced the appointment of Lieutenant Lawrence Quichocho. He is currently assigned to the Office of the Police Commander. The chief told KUAM News, "He'll be really looking at all the information as it pertains both administratively and criminal investigations that are needed to look at some of the new information surfacing in terms of what the media reported in names and what occurred during the trial?"
During the trial of Song Ja Cha last year, testimony was provided by one of the workers that three police officers, two she knew as "Tony" and "Mario", would frequent the bar. Lt. Quichocho has been tasked to determine if the allegations were true and what involvement that may have had with the illegal brothel and its owner who has been convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
Quichocho was deputized with full authority to investigate the allegations as well as other actions of Officer David Q. Manila, who admitted on the stand that he paid $40 for a drink and then had sex with one of the workers. He also testified that the owner, Cha, asked him to tell one of the workers that she could not leave the bar until she had paid off her debt to her. The police department stresses that Quichocho is not closely related to Officer Manila and was not part of the Tumon-Tamuning Precinct at the time the Blue House Lounge was in operation.
Bordallo continued, "I trust Lieutenant Quichocho and his judgment and the task that he has ahead of him. We also will maintain our communication and build our relationship with the Office of the Attorney General."
Bordallo had previously maintained that there was no cover-up with regard to a police investigation into the alleged involvement of officers. On Thursday he was ordered by the governor to disclose all details of the case and announced that he would be heeding the call of the lieutenant governor by conducting further review of the matter.
Governor Eddie Calvo says the disclosure was necessary and the public must have confidence that important issues that were brought out during the trial are fully dealt with, telling KUAM News, "These were criminal acts that occurred years ago in 2008, but again, how this process has moved this far it is disconcerting. So this is something that we believe is so important not only for those that have been victims, but also holding accountable all those may have been involved in the perpetration of a crime."
Chief Bordallo has ordered all GPD officers to submit to any questioning and comply with the investigation. He warns that any officer who fails to do so will be subject to adverse action and charges of obstruction of justice. The AG's Office meanwhile contends it has not received an official written request from the lieutenant governor to investigate GPD officers involved in the Blue House Lounge case.
AG's Office spokesperson Carlina Charfauros says until it is received, they will not provide further comment.
The lieutenant governor sent the letter on Thursday.
In addition to the appointment of Lieutenant Quichocho to investigate alleged police officer involvement in the Blue House Lounge, Chief Bordallo announces the appointment of two senior sergeants to assist in the investigation. Sergeant Emily Charfauros, currently assigned to the Training and Staff Division; and Sergeant James Buccat, currently assigned to the Forensic Science Division, have been tasked to assist Quichocho with the investigation into allegations that two officers and others may have frequented the club and known about the illegal activities occurring there. The team has also been asked to investigate additional actions of Officer Manila.