CCU members to pay $10k to resolve Open Government lawsuit filed by OAG

November 16, 2021- Tamuning, Guam- The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has resolved its suit against Consolidated Commission on Utilities (CCU) members Joseph Duenas, Francis Santos, Simon Sanchez and former members George Bamba and Pedro Guerrero. The lawsuit, filed in February 2020, was based on a 2015 closed-door, executive session where the CCU members discussed and decided on a $28,000 raise for a Guam Waterworks Authority interim general manager.

The defendants must pay $10,049.20 under the terms of the settlement. This amount was based on several factors, including how much the interim manager actually received as a result of the raise. Although the CCU members subsequently voted on and approved the raise in an open meeting, the Open Government Law clearly and explicitly prohibits discussion of salaries, salary levels, and salary adjustments in executive sessions.

“Our actions will be guided by the laws and facts, and in this case the law is clear and unambiguous: raises must be discussed and decided in public,” said Attorney General Leevin T. Camacho. “This case and the work of the Public Auditor and his team should prevent this from happening again. But if it does, we remain prepared to take action.”   

This was the first suit in nearly a decade brought by the OAG pursuant to the Enforcement of Proper Government Spending Act. The information that formed the basis of the lawsuit was discovered through the partnership between the OAG and the Office of Public Accountability (OPA) to tackle the misuse of government funds and promote the rule of law.

The settlement proceeds will be returned to the community through a partnership with Direct Service Providers such as Lighthouse Recovery Center and Oasis Empowerment Center. Individuals who have successfully completed drug rehabilitation programs and are entering after-care services, such as housing transitions, may be eligible to receive credits toward deposits for new utility accounts or arrears for existing accounts.