Leyda Ada’s father Ichihara testifies

BMV director testifies that Melvin Ada sold/transferred 4 cars in one day in 2011

The U.S. government on Friday called to the witness stand, Joe Ichihara, the father of Leyda Ada, who is accused of conspiring with her husband, Melvin, to perpetrate healthcare fraud exceeding $1.7 million.

Ichihara completed his emotional testimony.

Ichihara was so emotional in his testimony that U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona ordered a 20-minute recess. Ichihara was head of the Commonwealth Health Center’s Material and Supply, where Melvin was first assigned before subsequently transferred to finance or accounting section in the hospital.

A Federal Bureau of Investigation forensic accountant was the prosecution’s last witness on Friday. The forensic accountant is expected to continue her testimony when the ongoing jury trial of Ada resumes today, Monday, at 8am.

During Friday’s trial, assistant U.S. attorney Garth Backe asked Ichihara about several deposits involving thousands of dollars into his bank account between Sept. 15, 2011 to Dec. 8, 2011, Ichihara said it was his niece, whom he considers his daughter, who deposited the money in Guam.

Ichihara said the money was for the construction project that he did for his niece’s house.

Backe reminded that in his grand jury testimony two years and half ago, Ichihara’s testimony was that he forgot about such deposits.

Ichihara explained that he made such statement before the grand jury because back then he could not recall, thinking at that time if it was his transfer of military account.

Ichihara insisted that those checks that were deposited in Guam into his bank account came from his niece.

As to Backe’s question who requested or whose idea to take over the family’s business, Ichihara said he helped the family and that they signed the documents and that it’s all their idea to help the company.

Ichihara then stated that if Backe was implying that he knew what Melvin did, he said he had nothing to do with it.

“You have to understand the culture, too. It’s Melvin not us,” he said.

Ichihara looked at Judge Manglona and apologized for his answer, saying he has so much respect for the court.

“It’s getting out of hand,” Ichihara said, breathing heavily. He said it’s time for him to take his medicine.

This prompted Judge Manglona to order a 20-minute recess.

The prosecution alleged that immediately after Melvin stopped reporting to work at CHC on July 5, 2011, he and defendant Ada, assisted by others, conducted a series of financial transactions to conceal the proceeds derived from healthcare fraud and embezzlement.

The prosecution alleged that on Aug. 10, 2011, Melvin transferred his business licenses to “Island Trendz” and “Blaze ‘N’ Entertainment” to Ada. Ada in turn, allegedly transferred the licenses to a corporation controlled by her immediate relatives on Sept. 1, 2011.

On Sept. 12, 2011, the corporation’s president allegedly opened a business checking account for the Ada couple at First Hawaiian Bank under the business name “Inter-Micronesia Island Trendz” and another account under the business name “Inter-Micronesia Blaze N Entertainment on Jan. 20, 2012.

From September 2011 through September 2012, approximately $95,000 was deposited into the “Inter-Micronesia Island Trendz” account but only $38,000 in business gross revenue was reported over that period of time.

In the resumption of Ichihara’s testimony, Backe reminded the witness that his grand jury testimony was that it was Leyda Ada’s idea to transfer the business.

Ichihara explained that maybe Leyda suggested for such transfer and the family decided it so.

Ichihara said as head of CHC’s Material and Supply, he oversees the purchases to MMS.

MMS—a Medical Supply Company is a Missouri corporation, which also did business as Midwest Medical Supply Co. Inc. and Midwest Medical Supply Co. LLC. CHC regularly purchased medical supplies and equipment from MMS.

Leyda Ada was employed by MMS as an account manager until January 2009. Melvin was employed as a medical supply specialist at CHC until January 2011. During his employment, he was the person at CHC who was primarily responsible for facilitating purchases from and payments to MMS.

Backe showed documents about CHC’s apparent purchase of certain product and told Ichihara that in his grand jury testimony, his answer was that they’re questionable purchase.

Ichichara asked Backe where are the documents showing such process.

When Backe showed the original invoice for the product, Ichihara answered, “It looks like my daughter’s signature.”

Shown another document, Ichihara said it looks like his daughter’s signature in the invoice.

Ichihara said his daughter has no authority to issue invoice for MMS.

Ichihara said he learned about the accusations against Melvin when then-Public Health secretary Kevin Villagomez and Corazon Ada mentioned it to him in July 2011.

Before that, he said he could not recall hearing about the accusation.

In his grand jury testimony, Backe said Ichihara stated that he learned from the previous chief financial officer of the hospital that Melvin was under investigation for stealing money, and that “they just kind of drop it off.”

On cross-examination by attorney Mark Hanson, counsel for Leyda Ada, Ichihara said nothing came out in 2008 about the accusations that Melvin was stealing money after then-Public Health secretary Kevin Villagomez raised the issue in 2011.

He agreed with Hanson that there’s no reason for him to know what documents Melvin brought to Finance because it’s already out from their office.

Ichihara said he was pissed off during the grand jury.

“Just sitting here, you don’t know the pain that we have to go through,” Ichihara said. “Backe put something on my head and blow my head.”

Ichihara said he donated $2,000 to the church, but he did not want publicity about it, and that he paid his sisters’ billings.

He said he hired a mason, carpenter, and others on the house’s project for his niece.

Asked where his niece got the money, Ichihara said she’s chief financial officer of a housing program in Guam and that her husband is a national guard.

Hanson described Ichihara as “a very generous grandfather” after Ichihara testified that he even let his grandson stay free of charge in a house that he built.

Ichihara said he was assuming that Melvin stole only a couple of thousands of dollars from CHC, but he was so mad when he found out it was almost $2million.

“The pain I have here cannot go away,” said Ichihara pointing to his heart.

Bureau of Motor Vehicle Director Juana Leon Guerrero testified on Thursday that Melvin Ada sold or transferred the ownership of four cars in one day in 2011 for “zero amount.”

Leon Guerrero said although it’s not uncommon to see a person selling or transferring ownership of car for zero amount, it is the first time during her many years working at BMV to see the sale or transfer of four vehicles in one day.

The prosecution recalled Leon Guerrero to the witness stand to ask her about BMV documents regarding the sale or transfer of four cars.

Earlier that day, Leon Guerrero also testified about other documents, showing Melvin’s purchase in 2008 of a Suzuki Samurai, and purchase in 2009 of a Nissan Frontier, Nissan Rogue, Nissan Quest, and Nissan 350Z.

Shown with BMV documents, Leon Guerrero said Melvin presented deed of sale of a 2004 Nissan Quest to Leyda Ada on Aug. 1, 2011.

Leon Guerrero said on that same day, Melvin also presented deeds of sale of a 2005 Nissan Frontier, a Nissan 350Z, and a 2009 Nissan Rogue to three other persons all for “zero amount.”

Leon Guerrero said Melvin also sold a 2005 Nissan Murano for “zero amount” on Aug. 5, 2011, and a 1995 Honda Civic to Rosa Ichihara for $1 on Sept. 21, 2011.

Leon Guerrero said Melvin sold a 2009 Nissan Rogue for $12,000 on Feb. 21, 2012. She said the car has the same descriptions with the vehicle Melvin sold on Aug. 1, 2011.

During cross-examination by atty. Hanson, the BMV director agreed with Hanson that selling a car for “zero amount” is not surprising because, just like in the case of the 2004 Nissan Quest, the buyer was Melvin’s wife.

Leon Guerrero also agreed that the amount of sale of car is zero because maybe there’s exchange of money behind it. She also agreed with Hanson that during Melvin car transactions, she was not aware that he was stealing almost $2 million from CHC.

On Backe’s re-direct examination, Leon Guerrero said it’s the first time she encountered a person selling four cars for “zero amount” in one day.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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