Former Mayor of Yona, Guam Sentenced to Prison for Extortion
News Release from US DoJ, January 14, 2021
Hagatña, Guam – SHAWN N. ANDERSON, United States Attorney for the Districts of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, announced that defendant Jesse Mendiola Blas, age 58, from Yona, Guam, was sentenced in the United States District Court of Guam to 37 months imprisonment for Extortion Under Color of Official Right, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951. The Court also ordered three years of supervised release following imprisonment, one hundred hours of community service, a mandatory $100 special assessment fee, and a forfeiture money judgment of $11,700.
Beginning in November 2018, Blas used his position as Mayor of Yona to accept cash bribes from a confidential informant (CI), who posed as a drug trafficker to obtain United States Postal Service cluster box units (CBU). The CBUs are offered free to residents for the lawful receipt of mail. Blas agreed to provide a mailbox to the CI to enable drug traffickers to securely receive packages of methamphetamine through the U.S. mail system. Continual access to the mailbox was conditioned upon sharing proceeds from the drug packages with Blas. During the scheme, he received $11,700 for the use of a single mailbox. Blas also offered to sell a second mailbox to the CI for $15,000. He also offered to change the assigned box each week to avoid interception of the drug packages by law enforcement. When the CI stopped making payments, Blas asked for $8,000 more and threatened to shut down the mailbox. Blas was subsequently arrested in September 2019.
U.S. Attorney Anderson stated, “We entrust our elected officials with the responsibility to act in the best interests of the public. Community safety is among their basic duties. This case exposed a mayor acting in his own self-interest to the potential detriment of an entire island. I commend the hard work by our agency partners that brought Mr. Blas to justice. The sentence imposed by the Court further demonstrates that officials who engage in criminal conduct will be held accountable.”
“Most public officials are honorable and dedicated to serving their communities. Unfortunately, the actions displayed by Mayor Blas undermines the public’s trust in elected officials," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Eli S. Miranda. “Citizens expect and deserve their public officials to serve them honestly and in accordance with the law. Failure to do so erodes the public’s faith in government – which is crucial in ensuring public safety. The FBI will continue to aggressively investigate any corrupt public official who willfully and maliciously abuse their office.”
“As the law enforcement and security arm of the U.S. Postal Service, the safety of postal employees and the public is our top priority,” said Inspector in Charge Rafael Nunez of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. “Anyone who uses the Post Office or its products for unlawful activities should know they will not go undetected and will be held accountable. When local and federal law enforcement work together, we can better protect our communities, our families, and our neighborhoods. Working together we will continue to investigation, arrest and prosecute those individuals responsible for endangering U.S. Postal Service employees and the citizens of Guam.”
“Public corruption has far reaching effects on the day to day lives of everyone in society,” said John F. Tobon, Special Agent in Charge for Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). “Identifying acts of corruption, the proceeds of these acts and bringing those responsible to justice is a top priority for HSI. We will continue to work tirelessly in order to root out corruption.”
This case was a result of a joint investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Postal Inspection Service, and Homeland Security Investigations. The case was prosecuted by Laura C. Sambataro, Assistant United States Attorney in the District of Guam.