Former prosecutor calls out AG

Peter J. Santos, Esq.

A former prosecutor, police officer, and combat veteran is calling out his former boss – Attorney General Leevin Camacho – for failing Guam as she deals with unceasing violence and sex crimes.

Attorney Peter J. Santos,  who now works for the Alternate Public Defender, is contemplating running against Mr. Camacho in this year’s election for attorney general. If he runs, he joins former Attorney General Douglas Moylan in vying for the seat. Speaker Therese Terlaje also is rumored to consider running for the post.

“Our island needs leaders with wisdom and great courage to navigate our community during these turbulent times,” Mr. Santos said in an “Open Letter to the People of Guam” he penned and sent to the media. “We need leaders with innovative and creative vision to stabilize and strengthen our economy and keep us safe.”

The Agat native was a prosecutor under both Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson, and for the first two years of Camacho’s term. He was complimentary of Camacho’s inroads on child support enforcement, environmental justice, and securing resources for drug addiction programs.

“He is also responsible to prosecute crime and be a steward of the resources,” Mr. Santos stated in his letter about his former boss, adding rhetorically, “Has he done much of that?”

He provided the following testimony on Camacho’s dismal performance in office:

“Look now what’s going on at the Prosecution Division. I used to work there and I still interact with that division as part of my job, so I have intimate knowledge of what is going on there and all the problems they are having. In open court recently in a hearing where I was present, an Assistant Attorney General commented to the judge that what is happening is borderline unethical and they will be forced to just start dismissing cases. Well my fellow People of Guam, that has already been happening.

“Mr. Camacho recently responded to public criticism of his handling of crime and the issues plaguing the prosecution division but he was entirely dismissive. He said: “We’re not going to be distracted by misinformation or pettiness. We remain focused on working on important issues and improving the way our office serves our island.” Mr. Camacho appears to be tone deaf and blind to the most important issues in his office. So in summary, it’s great what he’s doing, but it’s not so great what he’s not doing. It may be that he’s unaware of the problems, after all he perceives it as misinformation. We don’t know what we don’t know. But for some, it’s willful blindness.”

Mr. Santos is not the first among the Camacho prosecution division to divulge his former boss’s ineptitude. As Kandit has previously reported, there has been an exodus of prosecutors from the Office of the Attorney General stemming from his alleged mismanagement of that office and a climate of fear and toxic environment perceived there.

Mr. Camacho recently lost his head of sex crimes prosecution, Christine Tenorio, that led to the resignations of others in his office. Sources also provided Kandit with a gag order the attorney general’s management team had issued, which prevented prosecutors from collaborating with senators to strengthen Guam’s criminal justice statutes. The OAG failed to furnish the document under a Freedom of Information Act request for disclosure.

Here is autobiographical information on Mr. Santos:

“I was born in a tin shack in Agat to a very young teenage mother and I was raised by my grandparents. For my entire life until I graduated high school we lived on welfare, food stamps, free school lunch, and Section 8 housing. I started finding ways to earn money at age 12 to feed my younger siblings because my mother struggled with drug addiction and left us to fend for ourselves. We were homeless for a summer and lived in a car and then a homeless shelter. I know all too well what it is like to go to bed hungry. After High School I worked to earn a living, but I always felt that I needed to try and see what I can qualify for from the government in the way of public assistance. I never was able to receive any public assistance but the mindset and desire to was strong. It was almost instinct. It wasn’t till very many years later that I actually realized how stifling public assistance was to me and I now realize how stifling it is to our community. Don’t get me wrong. Public assistance is crucial and necessary to those in need, but it must be temporary and judicious, otherwise we end up with a society that is dependent on it and lacks incentive, ambition, and resilience. I don’t believe I am wrong about this.”

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