Attorneys talk about win in GHURA case
Fresh off a win in the GHURA trial, defense attorneys Sam Teker and Curtis Van De Veld give us their take on why the case was pursued over others and the AG's star witness.
The two lawyers pulled-off wins for their clients in the GHURA open government trial. The lawyers represented former agency board members Cecile Suda, David Sablan and Roland Selvidge who were accused of violating the Open Government Law way back in 2011. All three were acquitted of all charges by a six-member jury.
However, other board members are still on the hook for charges since they separated their cases.
But would moving forward with those cases in light of a not guilty verdict in this one be a wise thing for Attorney General Leevin Camacho to do?
Van de Veld said, "The continued prosecution of the other board of commissioners members is a waste of government resources." Teker added, "If they do bring it forward, they're going to have to rethink their strategy."
Both lawyers agree the "A-HA" moment in the trial was the testimony of the Government's so-called star witness - former GHURA director Marcel Camacho.
We asked Teker when he felt the tide in the case turning, to which he replied, "After Curtis cross-examined Marcel Camacho."
KUAM files show Camacho was fired from GVB in 2009 and resigned from GHURA in 2012. At the time, Camacho said he had issues with the awarding of the low-income tax credits that became a focal point of the trial, but GHURA board members told KUAM he was placed on leave for making real estate deals as a broker while leading GHURA - something KUAM confirmed with Camacho's own resume. Camacho also attempted to get a waiver for Paradise Meadows - a company at the time he said he had nothing to do with.
"In no way am I affiliated with Paradise Meadows," he said.
But in that same interview from 2011, Camacho contradicts himself just moments later, saying, "My father is the principal of Paradise Meadows."
We asked Van De Veld if he had issues with Camacho's credibility. He said, laughing, "Yes," adding, "His testimony was evasive and at times untruthful and, I believe, that it is based upon his personal bias. I wouldn't say that he intentionally lied; I would say that he was blinded by his personal feelings."
At one point in the trial, Camacho said he was disgusted with the board and stormed out of a meeting because he wanted nothing to do with what was going on - but a recording of a subsequent board meeting was played - and Camacho was caught on tape laughing and joking around - hardly the behavior of someone who is disgusted. Van De Veld pointed out the irony of charging board members for violating the open government law when Camacho- as the GHURA director - was responsible for making sure meeting announcements followed the law.
"He was not very familiar with the obligation of giving notice so management - who had the ultimate responsibility, didn't know what they were doing," said Van de Veld.
Meanwhile, Van De Veld also called out AG Leevin Camacho for pursuing the case. Van De veld said there's clear evidence AG Camacho lets some people slide with breaking the law - both lawyers bringing up the AG's treatment of raises given by the Consolidated Commission on Utilities.
"The AG himself is well aware of the misdeeds of people at the CCU, but nothing happens. There are other agencies who behave similarly - nothing happens," he said.
Teker said, "He actually came out and said to the CCU - 'what you did was illegal - rescind your order.
Van de Veld said, "I think I'm going to want to know why it is he persists in having these people charged when he looks the other way on everything else."
We asked Van De Veld if he thought AG Camacho was fulfilling the purpose of an elected AG or if he was more like an AG appointed by the Governor.
"When you have an elected AG who has basically cast his vision away from the misdeeds of the Executive Branch, have you really cured the problem by having an elected AG? I think the answer is no," he said.
We asked AG's spokeswoman Carlina Charfauros if the AG was still planning on pursuing cases against other GHURA board members facing similar charges. Her response? "The prosecution division is assessing that."