Governor Fitial has a fit about driver's arrest

October 1, 2009

Governor Benigno Fitial plans to file a formal complaint with the federal government regarding the surveillance of his former driver who was indicted on drug charges last month. The Marianas Variety reports:
“This is not right. This is politically motivated,” he said. “I was very disappointed with the way I was treated. They allowed my driver to continue driving for me for nine months without telling me about this. What if people dealing with my driver just decided to terminate me?”

The governor’s driver-bodyguard, Pete Reyes, was indicted last week in federal court for “ice” trafficking using the governor’s government-issued vehicle.

Fitial was still in Washington, D.C. when the indictment was announced.

He said he called his driver and confronted him about it but Reyes denied the accusations and claimed that he was being framed up.

Fitial said the court will determine Reyes’ guilt but he is taking an issue with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

“They don’t like me,” he added.
The governor claimed, "This is politically motivated. This happened before the election."

According to the Variety he said that the federal agency should have given him the courtesy of telling him about the investigation.

The governor's anger appears to be misplaced. The DEA and DOJ were doing their jobs. Informing the governor or others could have damaged the investigation.

The governor should recognize that it was actually his driver who put him in danger by using a government vehicle to deal drugs and violate federal laws. He might also consider investigating the Department of Public Safety's hiring policies. Are police officers regularly drug tested? Shouldn't the governor be concerned that a drug dealer was in possession of a government-issued weapon?

It was stated in the complaint that the driver was a drug dealer, and it does not specifically say that he was a user. However, if he was a drug user he surely would have exhibited signs of drug use.

An informational report filed September 30, 2009 does suggest that Reyes was a drug user. From the report that requested modification of pretrial release conditions:
On September 29, 2009, the defendant met with the U.S. Probation Officer to discuss his release conditions, at which time he was referred to Marianas Psychiatric Services for random drug testing. Also at this meeting, the defendant requested for drug counseling services. This officer has consulted with Assistant U.S. Attorney James Benedetto and Defense Counsel Robert Torres and all parties are in agreement that drug counseling is appropriate for the defendant. Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §3142(c)(B)(x), this officer recommends that the pretrial release conditions be modified to include to the following condition:
The defendant will participate in a program of inpatient or outpatient substance abuse therapy and counseling if deemed advisable by the pretrial services office or supervising officer.
Mr. Reyes and his probation officer signed a consent to modify his conditions of release agreeing to drug counseling if "deemed advisable" by the supervising officer. His original release conditions included that he must submit to drug testing.

It is stretch to say that a drug arrest is "politically motivated." According to the complaint the officials began the investigation based on a tip. They have a responsibility to follow up on such tips. If they were really after Governor Fitial wouldn't they have arrested the driver when the governor was in the car?

See also these posts:

Driver/Body Guard sold Meth From Governor's Car
Governor's Driver Packing Heat?


Anonymous said...

This post is all over the place. What's your point? You think the Governor's concerns are misplaced? Ok. So what-- that makes him no different. And what of the Informational Report for Mr. Reyes-- if someone has a problem, is it admitting you committed a crime by asking to seek treatment?

No, please, let's stay on the message here-- that the Governor had nothing to fear. That if his safety was in any danger, the DEA and other law enforcement would have let him know. Anyone who deals with law enforcement knows that they won't put anyone at risk-- anyone. That is the point and why give credence to the Governor's spin at all? No value.

Anonymous said...

the point is the governor should be angry at the driver not the Feds

Anonymous said...

The gov didn't know Reyes used drugs? The guy pled not guilty when he got caught with the drugs. That is gutsy. The gov needs to stop blaming the federal government for everything!

Anonymous said...

"Anyone who deals with law enforcement knows that they won't put anyone at risk-- anyone."

What an idiot.

Fitial has a very good point. He is a political figure head and his bodyguard/driver was dealing drugs out of the Gov's car. It took nine months to nab this guy? What were they waiting for?

At least let Fitial know that his driver may be using drugs while driving for crying out loud. If they knew a drunk was going to drive would they stop them before they get in the car?

DEA should be embarrassed.

Anonymous said...

Fitial should be embarrassed. Why didn't he know his bodyguards side business?

Captain said...

If that guy (driver) had a serious heart problem, and was awaiting a referral, as was his argument for home confinement, he was a possible danger to society by being allowed to drive.
He could have caused many deaths on the road as well as that of the Gov.and his family.

The Gov should be upset that the driver did not make the Gov aware of his medical problem.(Or did he?)
Either way if the Gov knew about it he (Gov.) was negligent to allow him to continue driving and could have been responsible for any consequences that could have happened, if he was not aware of the medical problem, then the Gov should be upset about that, along with the reported drug use on top of a heart condition.
I am sure that drug use does not help a heart condition.

It seems like this Gov. has a persecution complex.(among other things)He is paranoid and believes that he is in the "sights" of the Feds. Maybe he has reason to fear the Feds because of some "illicit" activities.
So what has he (Gov) done that makes him so paranoid?

Anonymous said...

Yep, maybe the feds followed the governor's car enough to find his haunts and hangouts or to catch him doing something.

The governor is always surrounded by thugs. It wasn't feds driving him around. It was some political hire. You hire a drug dealer and what do you expect will happen?

Notice the governor didn't say, "People on Saipan were put in danger because the DEA didn't make an immediate arrest." Nope not the big F. He cares only about himself.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the Noni commentators that the Governor's judgment was poor and his comments dead wrong. But he casts aspersions at the DEA agents, saying they don't like him. If they didn't like him and he was at risk, why not just ignore and let the "thugs" at him? They know their job and do it well. This set of DEA agents have been more active in getting Chinese ice dealers off our streets-- maybe that is the real reason Fitial is upset... the DEA guys are messing with his connections.

Anonymous said...

"Everyone loves a conspiracy."

Anonymous said...

Everyone hates corruption and bs.

Anonymous said...

Federalization should eliminate or greatly reduce ice here. Local immigration control could not stop the importation. The CNMI could grealy reduce the sex trade industry as well and the feds have and will help us in this area.

To market the CNMI as a haven with virtually no narcotics, prositution, violent crime, or handguns would be quite an attraction.

Anonymous said...

Governor Fitial WILL GET RELECTED whether Windy Doromol likes it or not.

May I ask Windy Doromol who she wants as the next CNMI Governor? She obviously does not want Governor Fitial to be re-elected. The question is who does she support?

Anonymous said...

10:52 How do you get out of this mostly factual and rhetorical post that Wendy Doromal "obviously does not want Fitial re-elected"? The question is, why are Fitial and anonymous 10:52 making the fact that the federal officials arresting a drug dealer is a politically motivated move?

I must say I agree with anonymous 7:17 and 10:28

Anonymous said...

If you don't see that Windy Doromol hates Governor Fitial with a passion, then you are just one dumb and blind White Thrash!!

Anonymous said...

Federal agencies are not in the habit of telling anyone about their investigations.

Tell one person and, pretty soon, everyone on the island knows. There was no conspiracy. There was a tip, the agency investigated without telling anyone, as is normal, and an arrest was made.

Fitial himself was not arrested. His problem is not the timing of the arrest but the poor choice he made in a driver (who was probably a family member.)

Anonymous said...

if he was a school bus driver, would the fed have acted differently?

Anonymous said...

Of course DEA would not inform the governor. Reyes was selling ice out of the governor's car for godssake -- the governor should be on the list of persons to investigate too. And let's face it, Fitial doesn't have an ounce of credibility. I would not for a second trust him to NOT compromise an ongoing federal investigation --and thereby compromise the lives of countless others in the community.

I find it completely unbelievable that NO ONE, not the Governor himself, not a single one of his advisors, and not a single one of the local law enforcement officers mandated to protect him, truly had no idea, not even an inkling, that Reyes was a meth user and seller, should never have been hired or retained in the police force, should never have been assigned to the Governor, should never have been issued a firearm.

In this small, close-knit, gossip-loving community, it is virtually impossible to keep such secrets.

Does the Governor really think his pretensions, diversions, and accusations are fooling anyone? Except for the spin doctors and folks in denial who have posted on this blog, most folks just assume, as a matter of course, that Fitial knew all along that his driver was a druggie.

The truth will come out soon enough.

Thank you, DEA and U.S. Attorneys.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 10:52 and 1:14 (same person) I do not hate the governor although I disagree with his views on federalization, and many of his questionable actions, statements, schemes, and decisions which have caused harm to innocent people.

I do not vote in the CNMI, therefore, I will not support or oppose candidates. The people of the CNMI -at least those who are not disenfranchised- will decide who their elected leaders will be.

As I have stated here and in a previous post, this arrests raises a question that should be checked out. Does the DPS routinely and randomly drug test police officers? If they don't, maybe they should. These are people who are issued weapons and entrusted to protect the public.

Anonymous said...

If the DEA or USAO thought Fitial knew or should have known the car was being used, they could have sought to forfeit it for the duration of the leasehold.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 7:34

Yes, exactly.

Anonymous said...

"Federalization should eliminate or greatly reduce ice here. Local immigration control could not stop the importation. The CNMI could grealy reduce the sex trade industry as well and the feds have and will help us in this area."

You must be high on ice. How has the Fed stopped illegal drugs coming into the US? It's increasing!

Anonymous said...

Uncle Ben been involved with thugs and has committed acts just touching illegal all his life. He was involved in US currency violations on numerous trips to the PI and Hong Kong when Willie boy gave him $100,000 cash packets to bring into the CNMI. He somehow escaped procecution and those charges. This was well documented in the two local newspapers a few years back. Perhaps his sense of the law is blurred.

Anonymous said...

That was decades ago before the federal law applied here. As for drug interdiction, the CNMI and Guam retain control of their own customs and quarantine.

These would have been federalized, too, if the legislation were really about security rather than political vindictiveness.

Anonymous said...

There is no provision in the Covenant for federal assumption of the CNMI's customs responsibility.

Anonymous said...

The CNMI's customs and quarantine control is not protected by the “mutual consent” provision of the Covenant.

As for protection under “local self-government,” almost everywhere else in the country these are federal responsibilities.

Federal take-over legislation could and should have included these aspects of our border control if it were really about security.

It is not.

Federalization is about punishing the CNMI for daring to hire Abramoff and his minions.