Numbers Don’t Lie
Special agent Todd Martin Peterson from the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation investigates violations of the Internal Revenue Code involving income tax as well as money laundering and related financial crimes.
It was an exciting week in the federal corruption trial of Mark Smith. Both the prosecution and defense rested their case-in-chief with closing arguments scheduled for Monday. While Mark Smith never took the stand to defend himself, it is his own words played from a recording to the jury, that may have sealed his fate.
Mark Smith is accused of money laundering and wire fraud among other charges in connection with illegally receiving federal funds. According to prosecution, as GHURA’s legal counsel, Mr. Smith had a conflict-of-interest and was unable to participate in the Section 8 program as a landlord. Instead of terminating the Section 8 contracts through which he received rental payments, Mr. Smith transferred his interest in the Section 8 properties to his former co-defendant, Glenn D. Wong. Mr. Wong then opened a bank account that Mr. Smith had access to.
Prior to Mr. Peterson’s testimony, voluminous documents were introduced to the jury through different witnesses. During Mr. Peterson’s testimony, prosecutor William Doolittle provided the jury the witness’s write up summarizing the prior documents and charting out the allegations of wrongdoing. Mr. Peterson said, “This is a summary chart that I prepared,” … “this is a summary of the account transactions from First Hawaiian Bank, account ending in 8369 and the time frame of the chart goes through May 20, 2014.” Mr. Doolittle asked who the owner of the account was. Mr. Peterson said, “This is the account that was opened in the name of Glenn D. Wong.”
Mr. Peterson went on to describe the summary chart, “The first column is the money laundering account that is referenced in the indictment. The date is the date of the transaction. The third column is the HAP deposit amount. That’s coming from the bank statement that identifies it as a HAP deposit. The fourth column is the account balance after the deposit. Next column is the withdrawal amount. Followed by that is the account balance for the amount in the account after the withdrawal.” The HAP payments he indicates are the Housing Assistance Payments that GHURA’s Section 8 Program deposits to the landlords of eligible low-income tenants.
During this trial, terms like conflict-of-interest and the true definition of a covered individual have been disputed by defense attorney Mike Phillips during opening arguments and throughout the trial. Mr. Peterson went on to describe the column labeled ‘disposition amount’ and said, “So some transactions there might be a check for a larger amount, and it’s broken up into the different amounts, so this is where I’m separating out amounts linked to multiple individuals. So, for instance count 29, it’s a $10,000 withdrawal amount. The $10,000 does not go to one particular place, it’s broken up into two places. So, the disposition amount is the amount that is going to a particular place.”
Mr. Doolittle inquired about why Mr. Peterson used two colors on his chart, and what the beige color signifies in the chart. Mr. Peterson said, “The beige is just to separate out the money laundering transactions that are in the indictment versus the other transactions in the account.” It appeared on the chart, the money that was direct deposited into Mr. Wong’s account from GHURA Section 8 HAP payments, were then transferred to different accounts belonging to Mark Smith. In some instances, Jennifer Bautista, Mr. Smith’s secretary would cash a check from Mr. Wong’s account payable to cash and prior testimony from Ms. Bautista, corroborates that the cash was given to Mr. Smith.
At one point, attorney Mike Phillips objected to the witness’s testimony and the summary charts that followed, claiming that the prosecution was trying to introduce the chart as evidence that had already been presented to the jury. Judge Ramona Manglona said, “The summary would aid the jury so I’m going to overrule the objection, but I am giving the jury the same instruction…I want to remind the jury that the contents of this summary is one produced by the witness and his own evaluation but it is for the jury to decide as to the accuracy or the underlying facts. This is not a representation of evidence, it’s a summary and chart gathering all that evidence to aid you and assist you in your deliberation process, so I’m receiving this exhibit for that purpose.” She also said, “The chart and summary is only as good as the underlying material which the witness is referring to. Only give them as such weight as the underlying material deserves.”
Mr. Peterson described the chart summaries, all of which explained exactly how the money was disbursed, distributed, and redirected back to Mr. Smith’s various bank accounts. One of the charts listed the transfer of properties to Mr. Wong and the documents that followed in connection to the sale from Mr. Smith to Mr. Wong. Mr. Peterson noted discrepancies in the paperwork related to the properties.
Mr. Phillips conducted a short cross-examination of the witness and could not dispute any of the charts’ information. The only issue Phillips was able to raise without being sustained, was the question of whether Mr. Peterson understood and acknowledged Mr. Smith sold his property to Mr. Wong. Before Mr. Wong passed away earlier this year, he had not paid Mr. Smith in full for the properties. Mr. Phillips asked Mr. Peterson if he was aware of what the estate of Glenn Wong now owes Mr. Smith because he is deceased. Mr. Peterson said, “I have absolutely no idea what his estate owes to anybody. I believe there was a mortgage recorded June 4 for four hundred some thousand dollars.” Mr. Phillips asked if that was the balance of what was owed to Mr. Smith. Mr. Peterson said, “Yes, but it was filed I believe four days after his death.”
In redirect, Mr. Doolittle asked if the chart Mr. Peterson provided regarding the property transfer documentation intended to convey any opinions about those documents. Special agent Peterson replied, “I was not conveying any legal opinions, any inference of whether it’s right or wrong what happened, I was just summarizing what was filed, what was not filed and whether it was signed, notarized, etc. I was not providing any legal opinions or even my own opinions on whether anything on the chart was proper or not proper or unusual or usual.”
Taitano: Everything Matters
Then, prosecutors called one of GHURA’s top aides while Smith was legal counsel. Melinda Taitano, the former special assistant to the director of GHURA, was employed at GHURA at the time Mark Smith was alleged to have committed wire fraud and laundered federal funds through GHURA’s Section 8 program. Ms. Taitano was named in correspondence between Housing and Urban Development officials and GHURA’s executive management. She also attended board meetings and prepared the board of commissioner’s minutes for those meetings. The testimony of Ms. Taitano confirmed the delays amongst GHURA’s executive management despite the staff’s attempts to comply with HUD’s federal regulations.
Prosecutor Marivic David asked how Ms. Taitano became aware of Mr. Smith’s conflict of interest. Taitano answered, “GHURA’s procurement manager, Bernard Lastimoza. His office is directly across from the Section 8 offices. He ran into or saw Mr. Smith coming from the Section 8 division. He inquired his business down there and they said he was a landlord so immediately he came upstairs to the executive office and informed me of his findings. We told them, the director and deputy, and he was instructed to pull the counsel file.” Ms. Taitano explained, “Bernard and I went over the legal counsel file. He had to identify if there was any disclosure made.” Ms. Taitano said of Mr. Smith’s file, “He presented a no-conflict form.” The ‘no-conflict’ form was Smith’s attestation to HUD that he had no conflict of interest.
Ms. Taitano gave her account of what transpired at one of the board meetings when Mr. Smith’s conflict was addressed, “Back then when we first notified the board, Chairman Sablan instructed counsel to prepare the letter for his signature. We’re given what we referred to as a red book. It’s the ethics when it deals with conflicts of interest. And so, there’s a form to be filled out…we found that there was a delay in producing this form.” The form Taitano refers to is a request to waive the conflict-of-interest so Mr. Smith could continue being a Section 8 landlord and GHURA’s attorney simultaneously.
Mr. Phillips in cross examination, asked Ms. Taitano if the federal government had accused her of destroying evidence. Ms. Taitano said, “No.” Mr. Phillips corrected himself after being chastised by Judge Ramona Manglona. He then asked if Ms. Taitano had met with the FBI. Ms. Taitano said, “Yes I did.” Mr. Phillips then asked if, out of frustration, Ms. Taitano made a false statement to the FBI that she was trying to speak up for the managers. Ms. Taitano admitted, “Yes I was frustrated, the managers were frustrated, and I did say that to them.”
Mr. Phillips attempted to suggest that Mr. Smith’s units in question were vacant. Ms. Taitano said, “Staff already confirmed that he was a current landlord.” She repeated, “Mr. Lastimoza came up to me and he had confirmed with the staff that attorney Smith was downstairs I believe executing a contract and that Mr. Lastimoza knew he was a counsel for the authority.”
Mr. Phillips countered that Ms. Taitano must have known that Mr. Smith had taken steps to transfer the properties in question to Glenn D. Wong, his former co-defendant and business partner. Ms. Taitano said, “I don’t know the details of it, other than he deeded to his colleague or business partner.” Mr. Phillips asked Taitano if she would have been alright with the transfer if it was legal? Ms. Taitano clarified, “Not that I’m okay with it, it’s just a matter of making sure that because he was contracted with GHURA as counsel, that there was no conflict, that he had no ties to receiving any HAP payments.”
Mr. Phillips tried to justify his client’s actions, stating that having Section 8 tenants or GHURA contracts would not matter if Mr. Smith indeed was not a covered individual. Taitano said, “Everything matters…Management tried to get the conflict-of-interest forms to HUD, there was just so many delays.” Mr. Phillips insisted that Smith had sold the units and had no tenants, to which Taitano corrected, “But I believe the continued conflict was through a bank account that…was receiving or his name appeared in the account that the HAP payments were being deposited to.”
Mr. Phillips wanted to know who prepared the minutes from GHURA’s board of commissioners’ meetings to provide to HUD. Ms. Taitano, referring to Ray Topasna, the director at the time, said, “Generally speaking, I said I provide administrative support to the executive management. Now, if the request came to extract certain paragraphs or discussions from minutes then it would be provided to him.” Mr. Phillips wanted Ms. Taitano to specify under whose direction would she prepare something like that? Ms. Taitano said, “If I was involved in it, it was at his request to put things together for his use.”
In prior trial proceedings, GHURA’s board of commissioners was accused of violating open government laws and Mr. Topasna became a whistleblower for the federal government.
Mark Smith incriminates himself
Then came the audio recording, where it seems Mark Smith incriminates himself. The former chairman of the GHURA board of commissioners, David Sablan, took the stand to testify on audio recordings of the board meetings and his perspective as the former head of GHURA’s policy making body. Mr. Smith was employed as legal counsel for GHURA and sat in the board meetings, giving legal advice that may have personally benefitted him, according to the prosecution.
Mr. William Doolittle asked Mr. Sablan what he did as part of GHURA’s board? Mr. Sablan explained, “First off, we communicate, the board would communicate directly with our executive director, our legal counsel and our financial controller. Those are the three major individuals that report directly to the board. And I wanted to make sure that there was some balance with regards to whatever was being told to the board. With all the various programs and issues that were facing us, and we made decisions on behalf of GHURA to basically make sure they had the proper management, had the proper authority to go ahead and spend the money as per the budget and provide the programs as necessary. So, we would review the budgets annually and look at the various programs and anything that management brought up to the attention of the board for a decision, we would deliberate and vote on it as a board would…And so, I wanted to make sure that everyone has their chance to say their piece on all the issues…came before us and I kind of managed that meeting to make sure that it came to some fruition, whether it would be a decision… So, I kind of kept that moving and also I felt that we were also responsible to keep track of managements responsibilities as we directed them to do.”
When asked about his knowledge of conflict-of-interest policy at GHURA, Sablan said, “If you are an employee of GHURA then you were not allowed to be a landlord. Basically if you were covered individual with GHURA…being a contractor on some sort of doing business with GHURA, you were basically not..could not be a landlord for the Section 8 program.”
Mr. Doolittle asked Mr. Sablan how he knew Mr. Smith. Sablan said, “Mr. Smith was our legal counsel at GHURA, and he came on board almost around the same time that I came on the board.” Mr. Doolittle asked Sablan if Mr. Smith had ever disclosed he was a Section 8 landlord. Mr. Sablan said, “At the time he was legal counsel, no. It did come up though, later. But not initially or at least a few months after I was already on the board.”
Mr. Sablan explained Mr. Smith’s responsibilities as GHURA’s legal counsel, “Basically to provide legal advice to the board and as directed by the board, would assist management in providing legal services, whether it relates to certain programs or any issues that would come up such as personnel issues, maybe civil service matters, things of that nature. His responsibilities as legal counsel was very broad, but everything was directed by the board effectively.” Mr. Doolittle asked if Smith had ever provided legal opinions to the board. Sablan spilled, “Yes he did, and we also had him work on certain programs to help out management. Make sure that everything was done properly and legally, whether it be something contractual or regulatory.”
Mr. Doolittle introduced into evidence and played an audio recording of a board meeting held on January 31, 2012. In the audio clip, you could hear Mr. Sablan, Marcel Camacho, former director, Millie Taitano, assistant to the director, and Mark Smith discussing Mr. Smith’s disclosure of conflict:
Sablan: So, we’re okay on that and then pending conflict-of-interest statement. I think this is the annual stuff that we gotta go through. Mark, you want to report on that?
Smith: What, about the conflict-of-interest?
Sablan: Do we have any policy that you want us to uh…
Camacho: Actually, no. I put this on there because I had it marked a form that was overdue at the last…and we hadn’t received it back, so I was going to ask to ensure that was taken care of.
Smith: I’ll get it to you.
Sablan: Isn’t this something annually that is signed off for HUD?
Camacho: No, because his marital status changed…it’s a form that we had all filled out when we started employment but because…
Sablan: But he’s not employed with us. He’s just our legal counsel. Anyway, he disclosed it, it’s been minuted, we have the disclosure statement from him signed. And there’s a waiver as well that the board had signed of his disclosure so it’s clear in that sense but the annual requirement by HUD is to sign off on conflict-of-interest statements so there’s a form that’s put out by HUD and I think every year we sign it because during the year our situations have changed and we have to continue to make sure that HUD gets information from us that we’re still within line of HUD and policy. Do we have this requirement of HUD, can you enlighten us maybe…?
Taitano: …If you come into any kind of potential conflict even after signing the initial…you have to disclose that again so it’s not just a one-time thing and that’s what I’m hearing you say annually…
Camacho: I submitted the whole packet of conflict-of-interest at the last meeting and the form is actually attached, so did you distribute this? It’s a policy that we have internally and then a HUD policy…
Sablan: Is it an annual requirement?
Camacho: I think it’s required when there’s a change of status but it’s not an annual thing. The reason why I gave this to Mark is because his status changed, and you have 30 days from the time the status changes in order to comply with HUD regulations.
Smith: Chairman, let me verify about being an employee or being a contracted employee…I’ll verify that, and I’ll get back to the board.
Camacho: But remember, you also have to do it because…I don’t know, I’ll let you…
Smith: Let me refer it to the board.
Camacho: You have my red book, right?
Taitano: Because it says, here on part one: disclosure of interest. It says either, I do have an interest, you’re doing it as a new statement, an annual renewal or report of new interest.
Sablan: The annual renewal is what I’m getting at…so if you don’t report it in the year, you have an opportunity at the end of the year to report it and disclose it. So, I think what we need to do is just make sure we all sign off on that area at the beginning of each year. So, I would suggest, I don’t think a motion’s needed but Millie, just give it all back out to us and we all just sign off on it.
Camacho: For clarification, I just want to reiterate that this is kind of a result of the schooling that I went into at Fort Lauderdale. So, I’m just trying to protect everyone’s interest and making them aware that we need to comply with some of this.
Sablan: Based on what Millie just read, we did sign it when we joined the board. We had to; HUD required it. Any changes that occur in the year, you would have to disclose it. Okay. And we’re now one year into the program. You have an opportunity if you forgot about it or you’re not fully sure, it gives you now a chance to examine…if conflicts may have arisen…discuss it with your board. Your colleagues will determine whether it’s something that is fine then waive it. If it’s not fine, then you will be asked to recuse in certain matters probably.
Camacho: The conflict-of-interest could be a direct or indirect conflict-of-interest. I want to put that out there.
Sablan: Board shall sign an annual conflict-of-interest statement which gives everyone an opportunity to reflect on the past year…no one’s going to get hurt if they comply. It applies to Mark but under his ethical standards, he did disclose his marriage to a relative to the governor, but it really didn’t make any difference to us because he doesn’t do more than just to give us legal advice. He went and did it anyway and then we signed off on the waiver, accepting his disclosure. So, it’s on record in that regard but that’s just one example. It may not even apply, but for us…
Camacho: I’m just saying that because he did sign the disclosure because there’s a status change now, that he had 30 days to fill out the paperwork again and submit it to the board if you so choose…I’m just saying that for the interest of the other board members also, this is what I learned when I went away. And it’s really up to the board. You guys are the policy makers, but I need to educate…
Sablan cuts in: He disclosed it to us. We signed off. I don’t think he needs to tell HUD about it but in our opinion, he did comply with the disclosure policy. But in my personal opinion, it had really nothing to do with anything we’re doing. It’s just that he married someone who’s related to the governor. We don’t care.
Camacho: But his marriage is an indirect relationship now with a politician.
Sablan: But it doesn’t matter though. It has nothing to do with what his work is at GHURA. We are the ones involved in voting on issues and there we have potential conflicts. We are the ones interacting with developers who may have interest in what we do here at GHURA. We are the ones who are interacting with tenants. Mark doesn’t do any of that so technically, he’s outside of the ring…we appreciate his disclosures and we signed off on the waiver…send it to HUD, whether they want to see it or not.
Taitano: Unless the board feels there is a potential conflict, then it’s forwarded to HUD. But it can end right here.
After the audio clip played, Mr. Doolittle asked Sablan if Smith ever disclosed the nature of the transfer of property to Glenn Wong? Mr. Sablan said, “I think the first set of properties we already discussed in the year previous. So, it kind of got brought up in mid-2011 when we were already on board…I believe later that year Mr. Smith had made some disclosures that we accepted as took care of it. Here we’re discussing something completely different with regards to a marriage to a member of the governor’s family.” Mr. Smith at the time, was married to Clare Calvo, then-Governor Eddie Calvo’s youngest sister.
Mr. Doolittle inquired if Smith had disclosed that he was seller-financing the transaction and may have had a security interest in the properties, as a result. Sablan said, “I don’t think he brought up those details when the issue came up. If I may just give you some background..my recollection. The issue came up because the Section 8 administrator said that there’s a possible conflict here according to regulations with HUD. That Mr. Smith was also our attorney, and he was also a landlord for certain apartments under the Section 8 program. So, Mr. Smith, being a licensed attorney, operating under certain ethical standards and the fact that he is our legal counsel, there is a basis of trust that I have in his opinion and his advice. And the fact that if he’s directed by us, his client, he should do it within the legal parameters. We basically said, ‘take care of this Mark. Get it resolved within the bounds of the regulations of HUD based on what the Section 8 administrator is bringing up.’ And Mr. Smith disclosed to the board, ‘Okay, I’ll take care of it.’ How he did it, we didn’t really discuss it at that point. You know, again, the basis of trust. He’s a legal professional, he operates under certain ethical standards. When he’s directed by his clients and it’s within the law, you expect him to just do it. And he should understand and know what he needs to do in order to stay in compliance of the law.”
Mr. Sablan continued, “So when we told him to take care of that, it may have been considered somewhat casually, but for me and other members of the board, it was something that maybe routinely, every now and then, happens. So just being an attorney, he should understand. Read the regulations, read the law, and just do what needs to be done. I think the issue of sale may have come up a little later. The issue came up I think two more times that year in 2011.” Mr. Doolittle asked if Smith had interacted with tenants during the time of that board meeting. Sablan said, “I think we can make that assumption, that point in early 2012, he had already taken care of the issue with regards to the apartments that he had owned. That came up in mid-2011.”
In another audio clip played in court, Mr. Smith can be heard telling the board his wish to rent to Section 8 tenants. Rather than following HUD regulations, he let the board know he could take care of the matter his way, if the board would not give their blessing to move forward with another apartment complex:
Smith: There’s only one matter I want to bring to the board’s attention…that I own a couple units that are being rented to GHURA and on Marcel’s watch he said it created a conflict…. but I have an apartment complex that’s coming up and it’s going to be ready for rental. And I really don’t want to have to do all this maneuvering with transferring of title and whatnot…I really don’t see the conflict of interest…I’m not an employee of GHURA, I don’t develop policy and I don’t make any decisions with respect to these units…Betty Bamba and some people are making a commotion…I just want to be able to rent out units to GHURA, not having to circumvent the whole ownership process or anything of that sort…I mean I can take all the steps to transfer and all these other things….I’ve already transferred my properties so there’s no conflict but I’m just saying I’ve got another apartment complex that’s coming up and it’s kind of like ‘here I go again’ and it’s like hey, it’s easy to get around because I’ve already done it…do I really have to go through this? Really? And that’s why I’m just presenting it to Ray and you guys because really, I can go this way too. And that’s just the way it is. You want to be legal, we can be. And I can meet all those requirements…”
Smith influenced GHURA policy
The last witnesses who took the stand in the Mark Smith trial before the prosecution rested were the Director of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Jesse Wu and Michael Jacobsen from HUD’s Departmental Enforcement Center. The HUD office is responsible for regulating all the public housing authorities that are federally funded. The DEC department investigates any illegal activity amongst the authorities. DEC was called upon by HUD since Mark Smith’s ongoing conflict-of-interest issue dragged on and was never resolved.
Prosecutor William Doolittle asked Mr. Wu to read the snapshot report from HUD’s DEC department. Part of it read, “there are several areas of concern we recommend you discuss with staff and the board of commissioners.” Mr. Wu elaborated on the events that followed after the report, he said it was “sent about a week or so before coming to Guam to then meet with the executive director and the governor about the report and our concerns from a regulatory standpoint. Our responsibility would be to continue working with the housing authority to ensure that they place in proper procedures to identify or flush out conflict of interest concerns, which could either result in a corrective action plan or repayment plan basically seeking funds that they paid out inappropriately.” Mr. Wu also said, “My responsibility was to continue to take these findings and continue that process until I was asked to stop when there was concerns raised by the Office of the Inspector General.”
On cross examination, defense attorney Mike Phillips pointed out that the civil compromise for Mr. Smith to pay the money back would endanger the chances of the Office of the Inspector General to bring criminal charges against Mr. Smith. Mr. Wu said, “That’s correct.” Mr. Phillips asked if Mr. Wu was aware that there are two pending lawsuits against Mr. Smith. Mr. Wu said, “That’s my understanding.”
Mr. Jacobsen told Mr. Doolittle that he was sent to GHURA in June of 2014 to conduct a review of the authority. The DEC had received a referral in 2013 from Mr. Wu’s HUD Honolulu field office with concerns of conflict-of-interest issues in Guam. Among the conflict-of-interest issues was Mr. Smith’s role as legal counsel for GHURA while being a Section 8 landlord. Mr. Jacobsen said of the snapshot report of DEC’s conclusion that GHURA and Mr. Smith had been in violation of HUD’s regulations, “This is a decision made with a lot of people’s inputs.”
Mr. Jacobsen told Mr. Phillips, “We believe that he was a part of the board meeting minutes, he was part of the inner circle and that we believed that he influenced decisions or that he likely did.” Mr. Jacobsen continued, “We were aware of one letter that he sent I think it was in August of 2011 where he was encouraging GHURA to make sure that their staff was a bit more self-disciplined regarding HUD regulations and I know that in that letter he cited the Section 8 program specifically. And that his comments in the letter were that if the Section 8 staff doesn’t follow the HUD regulations, then they’d be in violation of HUD regulations, and they could lose funding.”
Smith’s mother named as Wong’s beneficiary
When prosecution rested, the defense called it’s one and only witness, Daniel Owen, Mr. Smith’s stepfather. Mr. Phillips asked Mr. Owen if his late wife and Smith’s mother, Rosita Owen, was drawing a salary from any other source other than retirement. Mr. Owen said, “Yeah, I would’ve known. Yeah. I did most of the banking.” Glenn Wong, Smith’s former co-defendant, had a power-of-attorney, authorizing Mr. Smith’s mother, Ms. Owens, to sign for any documents relating to the properties Smith had sold to Wong. Mr. Phillips asked if Glenn Wong was paying Ms. Owen. Mr. Owen said, “No. There would’ve been no reason. What would’ve been the reason?”
Mr. Phillips asked if Mr. Owen had ever taken Ms. Owen to GHURA, being that he drove her everywhere. Mr. Owen replied, “She may have wanted to go up there a couple of times. Maybe. What would’ve been the reason?” Mr. Phillips continued his questioning, clarifying that Mr. Owen vaguely remembered taking a trip to GHURA a couple of times. Mr. Owen said, “Vaguely, yeah. I mean, you know, if you stretch the imagination or stretch the memory…perhaps, even at that I would not emphatically say that we were there on this date or we were there on that date…”
Mr. Phillips inquired about Ms. Owen’s health issues that had brought her to the Philippines. Mr. Owen confirmed that she did have health issues. Mr. Phillips asked if Smith ever went to the Philippines with them. Mr. Owen said, “He was there a couple of times.”
At cross examination, Mr. Doolittle presented a letter penned by Mr. Smith, requesting for abatement of penalties with the Department of Revenue and Taxation. In the letter, Smith said that his request was due to the fact that he assisted with the transportation of an off-island medical trip, a purchase of a vehicle to assist to and from Ms. Owen’s home and healthcare provider, purchasing a motorized wheelchair and helped with his mother’s housing finances. Mr. Owen confirmed, “The wheelchair, he and I agreed to go 50/50, if you will, on a wheelchair and so we did that. As far as the car, yeah. I don’t specifically recall, we had a Toyota Corolla at that time and he may or may not have helped us with that…other then the fact that you know, of course Mark lived with us, he didn’t make…if you’re talking about house payments or something like that, no, I mean he could have been elaborating a little bit on the assistance with the house but for the most part it was just me and Rosita.”
Mr. Doolittle brought up the trips to GHURA and showed Mr. Owen a Section 8 tenant lease agreement with Rosita Owen’s signature. Mr. Owen explained, “I had mentioned earlier, it could’ve been one or two times that I’ve been up there with the wife but on a regular routine basis, no.” Mr. Phillips asked Mr. Owen if he had any knowledge of the Smith apartments properties that Mr. Smith had transferred to Glenn Wong. Mr. Owen confirmed he was aware of the property. Mr. Doolittle asked Mr. Owen if Glenn considered he was a part of Mr. Owen’s family. Mr. Owen said, “In a very loose fashion in Guam…”. Mr. Doolittle asked if Wong was an honest person. To which Mr. Owen replied, “Glenn? Yeah.” Mr. Doolittle asked if Mr. Owen ever consider Wong to be mentally unstable. Mr. Owen said, “No.”
Mr. Doolittle then presented a document in which Mr. Wong had designated Ms. Owen as his beneficiary to his bank account. On the document, Wong listed Ms. Owen as his mother. Mr. Owen, sounding surprised, said, “He put down mother, but I don’t know why Glenn would do that. That doesn’t make sense. He even left the date of birth blank. If that was his mother, he should’ve known that.”
Closing arguments are scheduled to be heard on Monday at 8:15 am in front of Judge Ramona Manglona at the U.S. District Court of Guam.
02/28/2023 at 3:47 PM
Just to let you know this guy scammed me for $24000. He was relentless. I was very vulnerable because I was recently divorced and I have to 19 year old daughter who never speaks to me anymore. I am 64 and I have a condition called neurosarcoidosis which causes cognitive issues, poor and bizarre decision making and confusion. This guy took advantage of me and I had no where to turn. Now he has a copy cat named Mark Michael. Just today he scammed me for $5000. He is promising to pay back Smith’s debts but he is worse than his predisessor. I have tons of evidence on him but I have no idea to contact. I’m on a fixed income. I just want my approximately $35000 back plus I want to sue him.