TO BACK SELECTIVE PROSECUTION CLAIM
Defense enters Palacios couple’s premium class TAs
The defense in the criminal case filed by the Office of Attorney General against Gov. Ralph DLG Torres has submitted previous business class travel requests made by Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios and itineraries to support claims that the OAG is selectively prosecuting Torres.
During a hearing yesterday on Torres’ criminal case, Victorino Torres, Torres’ brother and one of his lawyers, raised a concern before Superior Court judge pro tem Alberto Tolentino regarding the prosecution raising issues about first lady Diann Torres traveling business class, claiming it is “irrelevant” to the motion to dismiss the OAG from prosecuting this case and the case as a whole due to selective prosecution.
Torres reasoned that the defense has had a copy of a travel authorization for Lt. Gov. Palacios and his wife, Maria Wella Palacios, that proves they too have flown business class using government funds but has withheld from entering the document into evidence as he feels it is “irrelevant” to the motion at hand.
“Your honor, there’s just one regarding the selective prosecution. We have travel authorization that [the lieutenant governor] and his wife also travelled business class. I honestly don’t believe that’s relevant for selective prosecution. [The prosecution] raised issues on the first lady traveling first class. In my opinion, I don’t think its relevant in this case but if they continue to go down that route, we will submit this. I personally don’t want to go down that route. I don’t think its relevant,” he said.
In response to the defense’ concerns, OAG chief solicitor Robert Glass just said “their choices are their choices.”
This prompted the defense to enter the travel authorization of the Palacios couple dated January 2019 for the inauguration of Guam Gov. Lourdes Leon Guerrero and Lt. Gov. Joshua Tenorio.
“We will enter it into evidence then,” said Torres.
Tolentino, after admitting the document into evidence, informed the parties that he would issue an order on the matter.
Back on June 7, Torres, through his lawyers, Viola Alepuyo and Matthew Holley, filed a motion seeking the dismissal of the criminal case against him and alleging that the Office of the Attorney General is selectively prosecuting him.
According to the motion for dismissal, Torres’ lawyers claim that the prosecution is being selective because the OAG has chosen not to prosecute similarly situated individuals.
“Since the civil statute on travel, Public Law 15-86, was enacted in September 2007, there has been no Commonwealth elected official, employee, or board member ever charged civilly or criminally for violating this provision. The OAG did not charge the numerous government officials, [including Torres’] opponent Lt. Gov. Arnold Palacios, AG Ed Manibusan, former attorney general J.P. San Nicolas, to name a few, who also flew on premium class travel. The OAG has chosen not to pursue any claims against a single other similarly situated government official relating to premium class travel. There has been preferential treatment between Gov. Torres and other officials,” the defense stated.
In addition, Torres’ lawyers argue that the information filed against Torres in itself provides evidence of selective prosecution.
“The selective nature of Gov. Torres’ prosecution is particularly evident in that he is charged with ‘causing premium class travel.’ Gov. Torres did not cause his premium class travel. His TAs were submitted, and approved by the secretary of Finance and the lieutenant governor and purchased by a travel agent. By the OAG’s theory, any one of the individuals who participated in ‘causing’ premium class travel is in violation of 1 CMC 7407(f). Yet Gov. Torres stands alone in this prosecution while numerous individuals go uncharged,” the motion stated.