Jury selection in the court of Judge Ramona V. Manglona began this morning for the federal trial of Mark Smith. Sixty five prospective jurors were marshaled into the courtroom before the jury administrator announced the day’s public proceedings would end, and the whittling down of the jury would recommence Thursday morning. No reason was given for the delay, which is the latest in a criminal case filed by the U.S. Attorney in 2017 against the attorney and former legal counsel for the Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority.
Mr. Smith is accused of engaging “in a scheme to make illegal section 8 housing payments” to himself and to then-GHURA conflicts counsel, Cesar Cabot, and engaging “in the manipulation of the awarding of federal low income housing tax credits,” according to supporting memoranda filed by the U.S. Attorney in federal court. “The direct involvement of GHURA’s former counsel, Mark Smith, who had conflicts of interest because he owned properties that directly benefited from the actions of GHURA. He subsequently attempted to cover his ownership… through a sham transfer to a relative. The relatives and employees of Mark Smith may have participated in an active cover up,” another statement attributed to the U.S. Attorney states.
“I’m confident in my attorney,” Mr. Smith told Kandit before entering the courthouse early Monday morning. “I’m confident in my case and I want the truth to be known to Guam, and we’ll go from there.”
The defendant was indicted March 14, 2017, along with Glenn Wong, who has since died. At the time, a Grand Jury had charged them with several counts of wire fraud, money laundering, theft of government property, false statement on loan application, engaging in monetary transactions with proceeds of specified unlawful activity, and conspiracy.