As the old saying which is applied to legal proceedings has it, " “the wheels of justice turn slowly,” and that certainly applies to the last land scam case against former land surveyor Thomas T. Anderson, which dates back to the 1980s. In a less than sensational resolution Thursday, Anderson was convicted of Unsworn Falsification as a misdemeanor for his involvement in the scheme.
According to a news release from the Guam Attorney General's Office, Anderson was previously convicted of three counts of Attempted Theft as a Second Degree Felony in other land scam cases in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. In those cases, Anderson was found to have prepared false deeds and survey maps that described small private parcels of land as exponentially larger than they really were, with the intent to transfer large amounts of government land to himself and others. Anderson was able to secure approval of the maps, procure phony tax assessment records for the “new” land, and attempt to register them by using a relative within the Government of Guam.
At question in this venerable case was a piece of property in Agat. Records show that the boundary for Lot 475 in Agat was artificially created in 1988 by Anderson. Although Lot 475 was created at the same time as other plots of land from a previous land scam case which Anderson was intimately involved and subsequently convicted in, it went unnoticed until a petition to register surfaced in 2013 under Landtech Inc. Anderson was the president and majority shareholder of Landtech. Research into land registration records showed that he had been transferring Lot 475 through various companies that he been involved with over the last two and a half decades.
Thursday, Anderson pled guilty and agreed to assist prosecutors in determining if any others involved in the primary case are criminally liable for their actions.
The Attorney General's Office urged the public to report any problems with their property: "If any member of the public believes that their land or their property rights have been illegally interfered with, they should report this misconduct to law enforcement," the AGO said.
Attorney General Barrett-Anderson was Attorney General in the late 1980’s during the earlier prosecution of land scam cases. She found it ironic that the final remaining land case is being concluded during her current tenure.
“The work of our attorneys, Nick Toft and James Collins, in collaboration with the Department of Land Management, and the Department Revenue & Taxation caught this old remnant of the 1988 Land Scam from happening. Public lands are a precious resource which we must protect for generations to come,” Barrett-Anderson said.