2 more siblings dragged into judge wife’s defamation suit

Bank of Hawaii wants to include as co-defendants the two siblings of the wife of Superior Court Presiding Judge Roberto C. Naraja in connection with a defamation lawsuit against the bank.

BOH, through counsel Sean Frink, asked the U.S. District Court for the NMI last Monday to allow it to file a first amended answer, counterclaim and third-party complaint to the defamation suit filed by Judge Naraja’s wife, Frances Deleon Guerrero Naraja.

Frink said they want to include as third-party defendants Joaquin V. Deleon Guerrero and Margarita Deleon Guerrero Santos, who are siblings of Mrs. Naraja.

Frink said in BOH’s filing of its answer, crossclaim and third-party complaint last Sept. 28 to Mrs. Naraja’s lawsuit, they made it clear that it was simultaneously pursuing permission from the U.S. District Court for the NMI’s bankruptcy court to add Mr. Deleon Guerrero as an additional third-party defendant.

Frink said while pursuing such permission from the bankruptcy court, BOH also became aware of Mrs. Santos’ potential claim to the primary subject of the entire lawsuit—the $290,000 on deposit in the CNMI Superior Court.

Frink said that last Thursday, the bankruptcy court lifted the stay and authorized BOH to sue Mr. Deleon Guerrero in this case.

The lawyer said under the law, BOH was precluded from bringing a claim against Mr. Deleon Guerrero due to the automatic stay imposed that prohibits such action without first having obtained permission from the bankruptcy court.

He said BOH filed this motion immediately after receiving the bankruptcy court’s authorization.

The Commonwealth Development Authority recently disclosed that it may have an interest in the $290,000.

CDA, through counsel Charity R. Hodson, has also agreed with BOH that CDA is owed more than $400,000 by Mr. Deleon Guerrero.

In response to BOH’s counterclaim, Hodson said CDA pursued payment of $400,000 in the Superior Court, causing the court to issue multiple writs of attachment.

Hodson said some of the writs were delivered to BOH, causing the bank to take action in compliance with such writs.

Mrs. Naraja is suing BOH for allegedly refusing to honor her eight cashier’s checks in the total amount of $290,000 that she had purchased in 2016, but then telling all the other banks on Saipan that she had improperly secured the cashier’s checks.

Aside from defamation, Mrs. Naraja, through counsel William M. Fitzgerald, is also suing BOH for allegedly dishonoring the cashier’s checks and conversion.

Mrs. Naraja seeks for the return of $290,000.

BOH filed a counterclaim against Mrs. Naraja and third-party claims against CDA, Gloria Deleon Guerrero Sablan, and the Lorenzo Deleon Guerrero Family Trust.

Sablan is Mrs. Naraja’s sister.

According to Frink, the bank simply seeks to join all of the potentially interested parties in one action so that their rights and responsibilities to the $290,000 can be determined.

Frink said Joaquin Deleon Guerrero and his wife declared bankruptcy, claiming that the true owner of the $290,000 is and was the Lorenzo I. Deleon Guerrero Family Trust.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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