CDA may have interest in $290K disputed in suit

The Commonwealth Development Authority has agreed with Bank of Hawaii’s allegation that it may have an interest in the $290,000 that is the subject of a defamation lawsuit filed by the wife of Superior Court Presiding Judge Roberto C. Naraja against the bank.

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

Frances Deleon Guerrero Naraja is the wife of Judge Naraja. Mrs. Naraja and Mr. Deleon Guerrero are siblings.

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 the 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. She also accused the bank of telling all 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 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 BOH counsel Sean 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 had declared bankruptcy, claiming that the true owner of the $290,000 is and was the Lorenzo I. Deleon Guerrero Family Trust.

In CDA’s response to BOH’s counterclaim, Hodson agrees with the bank that the court should declare all of the parties’ respective positions with regard to the $290,000 that was in the BOH account, the cashier’s checks, and the $290,000 allegedly held on deposit in the Superior Court.

Hodson said BOH is prevented from seeking monetary damages from CDA “because BOH assumed the risk of injury.”
Hodson said CDA is entitled to immunity from suit based upon its status as an instrumentality of the CNMI government.

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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