Port Seven investigator faces 8 years in prison for assaulting and holding employees hostage

Guam’s attorney general and team of prosecutors has, once again, taken a violent criminal to trial and won. And, this time, the case was against a man who once wielded much power over many who – in separate matters – have alleged he abused that power over them.

Disbarred attorney John Bell faces a maximum of eight years in prison after a Superior Court of Guam jury convicted him of third degree felony terrorizing, three counts of unlawful restraint, and two counts of assault. Attorney General Douglas Moylan is seeking the maximum sentence.

The case stems from a July 31, 2021 phone call to 911 that led police to knock on the door of Mr. Bell’s  Jonestown home that doubled as his office. That morning, according to a source, Mr. Bell had become irate with his three female employees, locked them in his home against their will, threatened to bash in the head of one of the women, then grabbed her by the neck and slammed her head into a desk.

According to the original charging document in the case, when police arrived, it was Mr. Bell who greeted them, holding a baby, and telling police he was the one who called them.

“While police were meeting with Mr. Bell, four women came running out a side door of the residence screaming hysterically and crying. The women all told police that the defendant had kept them ‘hostage’ inside the residence and threatened to cut off their hands and bash their heads,” the charging document states.

A second victim told police that as she was held hostage, she tried to reach for her cell phone to call police before Mr. Bell threatened to cut off her hands. The third victim said Mr. Bell shoved her back into her chair when she tried to stand up.

Mr. Bell was disbarred shortly after he was indicted by the grand jury and before a string of violations of his release conditions.

The Port Seven

His three former employees were not the first to allege they had been victims of Mr. Bell’s practice as an attorney. In 2011, six women and one man who worked in management positions at the Port Authority of Guam were the subject of a report of investigation prepared by Mr. Bell that was used to terminate the employees, smear their names, and to cause the termination of then-port manager Mary Torres.

Several high-ranking officials in the Calvo administration from the very top were involved in the conspiracy, which was a ruse to rid the seaport of two of the former governor’s political enemies: Bernadette Stern and Vivian Leon.

Ms. Torres and the seven fired employees, who came to be known as the Port Seven, maintained from the start that Mr. Bell had fabricated the report.

The seven employees eventually were exonerated and paid back wages and other damages. Ms. Torres has never been recompensed for the damages she suffered.

The administrator of the Guam Workers Compensation Commission, Joannalynn Fullerton, also has alleged Mr. Bell constantly harassed and intimidated her.

Several complaints against Mr. Bell were made to the Guam Bar Association and to law enforcement regarding his alleged misconduct, though nothing was ever done until the July 31, 2021 incident.

“Our office is committed to protecting our community and fighting to imprison bad guys who would do us and our families harm,” Attorney General Douglas Moylan, who took office this past January, said. “By statute, Bell also will be required to register on the Sex Offender Registry as a result of his Unlawful Restraint convictions. While on pretrial release in this case, Bell was found to have violated the terms of that release more than once.  Bell faces a maximum of eight years in jail and our office will be seeking the maximum sentence. This verdict is another victory by this ‘toughest on crime’ AG’s Office. The dangerous cycle of ‘catch – release & reoffend’ must stop.”

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