Land employee pressured to sign off on land scam against Core Tech

Michael Borja

A suspicious series of events took place in the final months of the Calvo administration at the Guam Department of Land Management. These events call into question the propriety of a GovGuam lawsuit then-director of land management Michael Borja filed against Core Tech International over a certificate of title indicating CTI owned Lot 10184-7, Ukudu on December 18, 2018:

  • Andrew Santos, Deputy Registrar of Titles in and for the Territory of Guam, on December 11, 2014, issued a certificate of title to Younex Enterprises Corporation for Lot 10184-7, Ukudu. Younex had purchased the property from the Estate of Jose Martinez Torres years earlier. The lot is where Guam Waterworks Authority operates the Northern District Wastewater Treatment Plant.
  • On May 4, 2015, DLM Deputy Recorder Jane Yamasaki recorded a mortgagee’s deed showing CTI now owned Lot 10184-7. CTI requested the certificate of title reflect the ownership change.
  • Three years later, on March 18, 2018, DLM management demoted Mr. Santos.
  • Mr. Santos appealed the demotion to the Civil Service Commission.
  • On November 1, 2018, Michael Borja finally replied to CTI’s request for the certificate of title, denying the request.
  • On December 18, 2018, Borja, through his position and in the name of the government of Guam, sued CTI for the court to change the certificate of title to indicate the government owns Lot 10184-7. Borja and his boss at the time – Eddie Calvo – both left office a few days later, when Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero was inaugurated. Ms. Leon Guerrero appointed Joseph Borja to succeed Michael Borja as director.
  • On March 7, 2019, the Department of Land Management stipulated to a settlement with Mr. Santos, rescinding his demotion, restoring him to his previous post, expunging all documents of what happened, and awarding him back pay.

A source close to the events as they unfolded said Santos was demoted because he refused to lie and state the 2014 certificate of title he issued was erroneous. The source also said Santos was pressured by management to reject CTI’s request for the certificate of title change.

“They needed him out of the way in order to reject the claim, and then to say that the 2014 certificate Andrew issued was wrong,” the source said.

No other documents regarding Mr. Santos’s demotion and subsequent reinstatement exist to explain the circumstances, allegations, and claims both parties made from the time of the demotion to the judgment of dismissal in the case. According to the settlement, all the documents related to the case were to be purged by the government of Guam.

Pressure to refuse CTI claims

However, in a October 26, 2020 deposition, Mr. Santos talked about the pressure he received at work regarding the certificate of title indicating Core Tech owns the property. He testified, in part:

“I was criticized about it at the office for issuing or giving the sewage treatment plant, when I say criticize, I mean, you know, people are talking about it. And I just went back and said, I only followed the deeds, the transfer documents. I did not go out of no one’s way, and I shouldn’t. The map, like I said, is just a map; it’s not a form of transfer. I don’t know what else to tell these people, you know. I’m just saying I based myself on all these recorded transactions that relate to a transfer or a conveyance. And that’s all I did.”

Assistant attorney general Jamie Canto, who is representing GovGuam in the case, pressed Mr. Santos further, asking him to clarify, “What is the criticism that you received?”

He replied by quoting the criticism from DLM management: “‘Andrew, now we’re going to have to start paying up for the use of the sewer treatment plant to a private sector,’ which is I guess these guys,” referring to CTI’s attorney in the deposition. “Because I conveyed the sewer treatment plant to, you know, Younex or Yonex, Younix. That’s basically, you know, the seniors up there that know it all.”

‘I made no mistake’

“Do you believe that you issued a [certificate of title] that incorrectly conveyed the treatment plant?” Mr. Canto asked him in the deposition.
Mr. Santos replied, “Man, sir, I would like to say I did make a mistake, but like I said earlier, I only base myself on these transfer documents. There’s just nothing else that I base myself on but these transfer documents that relate to conveyance. That’s it.”
The testimony was so damning for the government’s case, Mr. Canto had to do a double take on the question.
“Do you realize now that you made a mistake?” Mr. Canto asked. The question elicited a more-damning answer against the government’s entire theory of the case.
“I want to tell you I don’t think I made a mistake,” the issuer of titles said.

GovGuam should withdraw from case

The litigation continues in the lawsuit against CTI, and the trajectory of the case now seems to favor Core Tech. Judge Elyze Iriarte, who presides over this court, issued a decision and order in the case on November 30, 2021, that among other things confirms CTI’s ownership interest in the land, and questions whether GWA has any right to be on the property at all.

The decision and order led to a legal scramble, with GWA hiring the Calvo, Fisher & Jacob law firm to file a request to the Supreme Court of Guam for the appellate court to intervene in the case before it even finishes in the trial court.

GovGuam, represented by the Office of the Attorney General, recently joined GWA’s motion before the local high court.

“It appears Attorney General Leevin Camacho’s lieutenants may not be informing him of the facts of the ongoing case,” CTI attorney Peter R. Sgro, Jr. said. “I cannot help but question whether certain assistant attorney generals in this case have kept the Attorney General informed about the real facts of this case. I respect the Attorney General and feel that if he was informed about facts related to this case, the Attorney General would have never intervened in this case. It appears to me that there may be information being withheld from the Attorney General since I feel if he new details, he would know he had an ethical and legal obligation to withdraw.”

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