PARTIES SETTLE LAWSUIT OVER TRANSFER OF GOVT FUNDS
Superior Court Judge Pro Tempore Timothy H. Bellas dismissed yesterday the lawsuit filed by former Department of Public Lands secretary John DelRosario against Finance Secretary Larrisa Larson after both parties agreed to settle the case.
DelRosario and Larson reached a final settlement deal before Superior Court Judge Pro Tempore F. Philip Carbullido of the Supreme Court of Guam last June 29.
Del Rosario, who sued Larson over the transfer of $400,000 in government funds for the operations of cargo ship M/V Luta, cannot re-open the lawsuit in the future because Bellas dismissed the case with prejudice.
DelRosario was represented in the case by Jennifer Dockter. Assistant attorney general Charles E. Brasington represented Larson.
In a joint statement yesterday, DelRosario and Larson disclosed that, in exchange for the dismissal of the suit, the Commonwealth agreed that it is now clearly established that the Rota Legislative Delegation Resolution 19-3 was not a proper source of authority for the transfer of public funds under the circumstances.
The Commonwealth also agreed that Finance shall adopt standard procedures to ensure that an incident like this never happens again.
The SOP shall provide that the release of public funds must be authorized by law and that every request for payment must state the public or local law that purports to authorize the payment.
The SOP shall state in bold and all caps that “RESOLUTIONS PASSED BY EITHER THE SENATE OR THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OR THE LEGISLATIVE DELEGATIONS ARE NOT LAW AND CANNOT AUTHORIZE THE RELEASE OF PUBLIC FUNDS FROM THE TREASURY.”
The SOP shall provide that the Finance secretary will designate staff to review the law to confirm whether it authorizes the request for payment.
Any questions concerning ambiguity shall be referred to the Office of the Attorney General.
A payment request that has been referred to the OAG may not be processed unless the review for legal sufficiency has been completed by the OAG.
In exchange for dismissal of the lawsuit, the Commonwealth agreed to commit to the effective enforcement of the Commonwealth Ethics Act, which empowers the average citizen to hold government officials to account for violations of Commonwealth law.
The Commonwealth will pay DelRosario’s attorney’s fees and costs.
DelRosario filed the taxpayer’s lawsuit in May 2016 against Lt. Gov. Victor B. Hocog and Larson over the alleged adoption of a Rota Legislative Delegation Resolution 19-3 that purportedly authorized the payment of $400,000 to Luta Mermaid LLC, a private company owned by Hocog’s relatives.
DelRosario sued Hocog and Larson.
Last December, Bellas dismissed DelRosario’s claims against Hocog, saying his conduct is covered by legislative immunity.