Deleon Guerrero, Concepcion both surprised when FBI special agent told them the alleged victim was a minor
Federal Bureau of Investigation special agent Haejun Park testified that former Department of Public Safety commissioner James C. Deleon Guerrero and Police Officer 3 Jesse Concepcion confessed during their interview that they had sex with a girl at a secluded San Antonio beach site in June 2013.
At a preliminary hearing on Friday, Park said Deleon Guerrero and Concepcion were surprised when he told them that the girl was a minor and was then only 15 years old.
Called by the CNMI government to the witness stand, Park explained why the FBI was involved in the investigation in the case against the 44-year-old Deleon Guerrero and the 45-year-old Concepcion.
Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho continued the preliminary hearing to May 9, 2016 at 1:30pm after an issue arose regarding affirmative defense.
Camacho ordered the prosecution and the defense counsel to submit briefs on the affirmative defense issue.
The issue was that “in a prosecution under 6 CMC 1303-1309, whenever a provision of law defining an offense depends upon a victim being under a certain age, it is an affirmative defense that, at the time of the alleged offense, the defendant reasonably believed the victim to be that age or older, unless the victim was under 13 years of age at the time of the alleged offense.”
Park testified that the investigation in this case started with a Crime Stoppers’ tip about a possible sex trafficking of minors in July 2013.
Park said the FBI conducted an investigation in 2013 separate from DPS because it involved child pornography and CNMI government officials.
The special agent mentioned the FBI’s investigation in the case against Raymond B. Roberto, former firefighter Richard Sullivan Benavente, and Annette N. Basa.
In September 2014, Roberto, a former acting director of the CNMI Division of Fish and Wildlife, was acquitted by a federal jury of charges that he enticed three minor girls to engage in prostitution and tampered a witness while he was in jail.
In 2013, a federal grand jury indicted Benavente on several counts of sexual exploitation of a child. He cooperated with authorities and pleaded guilty to a count of sexual exploitation of a child.
Last Feb. 22, U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona sentenced the 45-year-old Benavente to the maximum imprisonment of 30 years.
In December 2014, Basa was slapped with a 17.5-year prison term for pleading guilty to sex trafficking of children.
Park said they solicited assistance from the CNMI’s Attorney General’s Investigative Division pertaining to the investigation against Deleon Guerrero and Concepcion.
Park said it was awkward for him to approach Deleon Guerrero for an interview in March 2014 because they knew each other as law enforcement partners.
The special agent said Deleon Guerrero confessed that he had sex with the alleged victim on two occasions at a San Antonio beach behind a school in June 2013.
He said Deleon Guerrero provided details of the sex encounters but stated that he was not aware that the girl was a minor.
In both occasions, Park said, Concepcion was present.
Park said Basa was the person who provided the girl to Concepcion.
He said Basa was providing the girl with customers for sex in exchange for money, drugs, and cigarettes.
Park said he believes that Deleon Guerrero was not aware with the arrangement between Basa and Concepcion.
The special agent said according to Deleon Guerrero he believed then that the girl was not a minor because she had pubic hair.
Park said Concepcion was also surprised when he interviewed him in September 2013, but that the officer confessed and provided details about his multiple sex encounters with the girl.
Park said Concepcion provided corroborating information about Deleon Guerrero’s sex encounters with the girl.
He said Concepcion stated that he had sex at least on four occasions with the girl.
Park said he interviewed the girl about half a dozen times mostly because of her sexual encounters with different persons.
He said Basa stated in his interview that initially she was not aware that one customer was Deleon Guerrero, but later found out that it’s the then-DPS commissioner.
Park agreed with the statement of defense counsel Richard Pierce, counsel for Concepcion, that the police officer was very cooperative with the FBI’s investigation.
Park said they had shown Deleon Guerrero the sex video between Benavente and the girl.
He said Deleon Guerrero stated that he believes it was the same girl he had sex at the beach site.
Park said Basa identified Deleon Guerrero.
Before Park took the witness stand, assistant attorney general Shannon Foley called AGID chief investigator Vicente B. Babauta, who is the case agent in the case against Deleon Guerrero and Concepcion.
Babauta basically testified how AGID conducted the investigation in the case.
Babauta said the case was forwarded to the AGID on Sept. 24, 2015, to pursue several individuals on local charges.
He said it was on March 10, 2016 when AGID initiated a joint investigation with the FBI into the case against Deleon Guerrero and Concepcion.
The defense called one witness, Office of the Public Auditor investigator Melissa Bauleong, who interviewed the girl in July 2013.
The Office of the Attorney General charged Deleon Guerrero and Concepcion each with one count of sexual abuse of a minor in the first degree, two counts of misconduct in public office, and two counts of conspiracy to commit sexual abuse of a minor in the first degree.
Attorney Matthew J. Holley of Torres Brothers law firm is counsel for Deleon Guerrero.
Deleon Guerrero and Concepcion are both under house arrest after posting $15,000 and $10,000 cash bail plus property, respectively.