Massage-Gate: The Outrage Continues

January 18, 2010


Online Petition Calling for the Governor's Resignation

An online petition calling for the removal of Governor Fitial was put up by former Saipan resident, Rick Vaugh. The petition raises some of the questions that were raised on this site, other blogs, and in online comments made to Marianas Variety news stories.

The petition reads:
To: CNMI Government
This kind of behavior in our government has to stop. I am tired of reading headlines like, “Human smuggling defendant is governor’s masseuse.” That’s right, in case you missed the January 14, 2010 headline in the Marianas Variety, Governor Fitial broke a suspected human smuggler under US Marshall custody who had been denied bail because she was a flight risk out of jail and had four police officers bring her to his mansion so she could administer a massage to sooth his back pain.

Remember, this wasn’t some Joe Nobody removing someone from court-ordered US Marshall custody; the duly elected leader of the Commonwealth did this. It would have been another story if it had been say, um, any other living person on the island besides the governor.

Is this scandal going to engender the trust and confidence of the Department of Homeland Security? Or are they going to think they are dealing with a third world strong man lying through his false teeth? Probably the latter.

Goodbye visa waivers.

Governor Fitial has also violated the public’s trust. This controversy begs so many questions.

Why is the Department of Public Safety using public funds (manpower, vehicles, gasoline) to deliver Chinese girls to the governor’s mansion?

Everyone on Saipan knows the Chinese massage parlors are fronts for prostitution. Was this a massage or a “massage?”

Does the masseuse have a work permit to “perform” this kind of work? If not, why is the Governor hiring illegal aliens?

Was she paid? If so, what did she do with the money when she got back to jail? If not, did the governor use his office to unjustly enrich himself?

And most importantly, who in their right mind would break someone under US Marshall custody out of jail so they could get a massage? Are there no other girls able to perform a “massage?”

These are questions the public deserves to have answered.

And even though we are only three days into the second Fitial term, it is not too early to call for his resignation. We shouldn’t have to impeach him. We shouldn’t have to wait for him to be indicted. He has shamed himself, shamed his office, and shamed us.

Governor Fitial should resign.
YuYu Spa
People are asking where is YuYu Spa? This is the spa which had employed the governor's masseuse, Qingmei Cheng for $600.00 a month before she was arrested on human smuggling charges. The Healing Stones-YuYu Spa , managed by Tang Investments, is located on the first floor of the Holiday Saipan Resort.

It is widely promoted on several Japanese websites such as the Viva La Saipan site and the tellmesaipan site. The google translator only translates part of the page from Japanese to English, so I have no clue what most of the text says. I can tell that the spa offers a variety of massages.

From the Marianas Variety
In a separate interview, the manager of Healing Stone Yu Yu Massage in Garapan is not sure if Fitial paid for the services of their former masseuse Qingmei Cheng when the governor requested for her services.
“We don’t know anything [about the massage at the governor’s residence] because [Cheng] was already at Corrections,” said the massage parlor’s manager, Tony.
“We are surprised to learn about the incident,” he added.
In a statement released to the Variety on Friday, Fitial said Cheng’s “fees were paid through the company she worked for.”
Variety learned that Cheng was employed by Yu Yu Massage under a one-year contact starting on March 2009 for a $4.55 per hour rate.
“She is a very good masseuse. She has many local customers,” said Nikki, a former supervisor of Cheng.
She added that Cheng is a legitimate guest worker.
Other spa owners interviewed by the Marians Variety questioned whether Ms. Cheng was a licensed therapist. From the article:
“That issue has created a bad impression about the spa business,” said Patricia Zhen, a masseuse working at one of the spas at Paseo de Marianas.
She added that the incident made people think that spas are fronts for illegal activities such as human smuggling or prostitution.
Moreover, she said, some members of the public now believe that spas performing illegal activities have the support of local authorities.
“That is not true,” said another masseuse who refused to be identified.
“This business contributes to the tourism industry,” she added.
“If the governor is concerned about the tourism industry, he should have thought about his actions and should have just consulted other massage clinics available on island,” she added.
“It seems that the governor does not believe in the capability of other masseuses on island who are part of the reasons why tourists from Japan and Russia continue visiting the island.”
She added, “But now the damage has been done not only to him but also to our business.”
Community Opinions
The Marianas Variety also interviewed community member to get their opinion on the scandal.
The ever-opinionated Saipan Chamber of Commerce had no opinion.

Froilan Tenorio, said, "The people should let the federal court take its own course. At this time, there is nothing we can do because the federal government is investigating the matter. I’m not planning to conduct an investigation through a public hearing.” From the Variety:
He said the matter “is not within [the Legislature’s] jurisdiction but within the responsibility of the executive branch of the government through the Attorney General’s Office.”
Regarding the calls for the governor’s impeachment, Tenorio said: “Let the federal court decide first on what really happened. It’s too premature for the people to call for an impeachment.”
He added, “We don’t want to jump into conclusions. Let the federal court decide and we’ll take off from there."
But he said he will ask the House counsel to conduct a research on what CNMI statutes Fitial might have violated when the governor “requested” for the delivery of a federal detainee to his residence.
Tenorio said he will bring the matter to his colleagues during their “leadership meetings.”
In another Marianas Variety a Chinese woman who was interviewed by reporter Gemma Casas said what many of us have expressed:
A Chinese woman who tends to one of the stores in Garapan said the federal detainee, Qingmei Cheng, who has been charged with human smuggling, is known as a very good masseuse.

But she said the governor should have just asked for another masseuse.

“I could have massaged him,” she said.
Exactly! Regardless of any health issues, the governor certainly did not need to spring his favorite masseuse from prison for a massage. He could have gotten any number of massage therapists to relieve his "pain."

Ms. Casas also quoted a Fitial supporter who may just be the Humanitarian, the persistent Fitial-defender who comments on this blog:
A Fitial supporter, who declined to be identified, said the federal government should consider the governor’s health.

“For humanitarian reasons, he should be afforded leniency,” he said.
Humanitarian reasons? For humanitarian reasons the governor should apologize and take any political or legal consequences that come his way including serving jail time if that is what is ordered.

Why is AG Edward Buckingham Listed as Qingmei Cheng's Attorney?

I found this document that lists CNMI Attorney General Buckingham as an attorney for defendant Qingmei Cheng. I would appreciate any attorney explaining how the CNMI AG could be representing the defendant in a human smuggling case. (Click on document below to enlarge.)

20 comments:

captain said...

This is just a carry over on the ignorance, lack of education and disrespect that is prevalent with the majority of elected and political appointees.
These people consider themselves above the law.
Most do not even know or understand the law as they have been circumventing or breaking the law for so many years , may they truly are that ignorant that they do not realize it.

In this case it trickles down to all involved, from the (rumored) son in law, to the DOC director.
It shows that nobody knows or understands their job, the laws and much more.
They are all following a "Judas Goat" that is bringing down the CNMI little by little.
This is only surpassed by the majority of the people that were bought to vote this clown back into office.
Now everybody has to suffer the consequences and become the laughing stock of the world.

Tenorio is another "item" in himself that mirrors the arrogance of the people that are involved in this latest incident.

the teacher said...

I signed, but was only the 8th signature.

The petition will not get that many sigs because so many here are afraid of the Governor...rule by fear and intimidation.

Anonymous said...

Teacher

He should be the one who is afraid now. His gig is up. The tide is turning. He can lie all he wants but no one will believe a word he says.

SIGN AWAY PEOPLE! NOTHING TO FEAR!

Jumping to Conclusions? said...

The so-called Humanitarian was not the Variety interviewee.

The AG is not the criminal defendant's counsel. That listing comes from the quirks of the court's Case Management/ Electronic Case Filing (CM/ECF) system.

The USAO subpoenaed at least one non-party employed by the CNMI government to appear at an evidentiary hearing on very short notice. To move to quash those subpoenas or seek a continuance, a very prompt filing was called for.

Non-parties are not listed on the drop-down menu, but the Local Rules require the use of the CM/ECF system by attorneys who have accounts. To add parties (including third parties) to the CM/ECF system, takes at least a day or more by a court systems administrator, if done at all.

So faced with the requirement of an immediate filing, the OAG had the choice of using the plaintiff or defendant, knowing that the pleading itself is what actually governs.

Since the CNMI's position is contrary to that of the US's, it is more clear to the court that the CNMI has potentially opposing interests as movant, to the USAO. This could soon be addressed by the CM/ECF administrator making the necessary addition of the CNMI as a third party, but ultimately this is a software issue, not a legal one.

I must say, there is a potential benefit to having so many rumors and misunderstandings collected in one place, so they can be addressed with facts, either here or in the proper forum. At least 80% of the comments made by readers, and almost as many of those in your own posts, are flat-out-wrong.

Ruth Tighe generally has an even higher ratio of misinformation/disinformation to factually correct statements, but provides no opportunity for public feedback. Thank you, at least, for that.

Wendy said...

Jumping to Conclusions?

No conclusions were made -just a request to understand the document. Thanks for the explanation!

If you see any inaccuracies in the post, please point them out, and I will correct them. Of course, opinions (and the 1st amendment allows free speech) are not inaccuracies -they are opinions! Feel free to respectfully disagree and I will post your opinions.

Anonymous said...

Jumping to Conclusion -
No one has to jump. The fact is that our governor went against a court order to release a prisoner from jail for a massage. It's crazy WRONG!

Anonymous said...

Did anyone interview Josie?

In the Saipan Middle Road blog it was said...

.
Jailhouse Lawyer‬ said...
.
Pursuant to an MOU between the CNMI DoC and the USMS (U.S. Marshals Service), certain federal pre-trial detainees are housed at DoC. Absent anything in the MOU to the contrary, it is certainly permissible for DoC to allow such detainees to voluntarily mow lawns or perform alternative medicine services.

No, they cannot be forced to do so, because they are suspects or accuseds only, not convicts. But pre-trial detention can get boring, so most such prisoners are only too happy to have some activity to relieve the monotony. They are not “released” while so doing, but in the lawful custody of DoC throughout.

This is not like picking someone off the street to work, but a very wise stewardship of DoC resources. While in DoC custody, federal prisoners are subject to DoC policies, written and unwritten, including those on temporary work transfers, unless limited by the USMS-DoC MOU.

Why not submit a FOIA request for it to the USMS? An OGA request would likely be unavailing because of the litigation exception.

Anonymous said...

9:10 An organized work release program should not, and most likely DOES NOT allow individuals to request prisoners at their beck and call to perform services. Then can any of us call the jail and at TAXPAYERS EXPENSE have prisoners delivered to our HOUSES and have them work FOR FREE? Please tell us the phone number!

has to more to the MOU said...

9:10 So prisoners who are denied bail are allowed to go to anyone's house to work? What if they don't want to go? What if they are allowed to escape? If such a loosely written agreement exists it needs to be rewritten.

Anonymous said...

What CNMI agency licenses masseuses? Is it true Cheng was a former garment worker turned masseuse? Did she have a license?

Anonymous said...

If nothing else, this has to show the unethical behavior of the CNMI governor. who believes she was giving a massage? I am signing the petition and urge everyone else to sign.

Anonymous said...

"What if they don't want to go? "

She was a foreigner in the CNMI who was also a federal detainee.

Did she really feel she had a choice in anything?

If you were in a foreign country (probably already a victim of an abusive system and force into acts of criminal sorts) and arrested and detained and that evening at 3 am the guards and chief come to your cell and wake you by opening it up and cuffing you. They then start walking you to a stationed police van. You speak very little of the cops language. They tell you they are taking you to their leader. You are frightened and worried for your life. You start thinking. "Will they kill me?". You have been involved in criminal acts for years. You have met with the governor in the past. You know his close friends very well. You haven't talked to the feds yet. You worry that he won't believe you. You are afraid that he thinks you already told the feds too much. You think the guards are taking you out to kill you and dump your body. You arrive at the Governors house. You are scared. He talks to you. Asks who arrested you. What they looked like. How many. What federal agency. What fake names. What did you say to them. What statements did you sign. You fear your life. You say nothing happened. Just arrest. You tell him not to fear. You tell him you will not talk. You will not mention him or his friends. Please dont hurt you.

He tells the officers to return you to your cell. But first he warns you and threatens your family (the reason you have been in the situation you have been in since you were 22 here in Saipan... a human trafficking victim yourself).

Officers take you back to prison. You cry yourself to sleep and wonder if you will ever see your home again or your family.

The next day, someone leaks story to the press. You are now even more afraid.

Anonymous said...

Noni 10:09

You are spot on. It's outrageous!

Anonymous said...

Dear Commentators: I would like to pinpoint to some of the facts here:

at first, CNMI law requires foreign national worker to have at least two years work experience if they wish to be employed as a MASSEUSE therefore, does Ms. Cheng has a certificate of physical therapy or massage therapy? most likely the answer is NO. Because she used to work for the garment factory until early 2008.
second, our governor underwent major surgery for his back pain and his sufferings still persists. It means the greatest American medical treatment did not cure his back pain. Now governor wants to relieve it through massage performed by a federal detainee. No one else in this island is better than her I think, even though she is not certified.
third, we are sympathetic to the pain of the governor, but how we can accept his abuse of power, people of the CNMI should wake up and ask these to the governor.

Anonymous said...

Buckingham had to choose a side in order to be able to appear before the Judge.

He chose Qing :-)

LOL

Well, Jed representing her could be a good thing for her. His vitriol against the imperialistic USofA is well know. Now he can mount an amazing defense and even offense for this perpetrator turned victim?

The Feds should have ensured Qing's protection. She was handcuffed and whisked out of local prison to go before the Governor and do lord knows what.

The Saipan Blogger said...

A massage parlor under a hotel in Garapan? I wonder who rents those rooms?

Anonymous said...

OFFER HER AMNESTY AND A GREEN CARD AND SHE WILL TALK.

Anonymous said...

Even New Jersey is laughing at us for being trashy!

"Governor releases jailed ‘people smuggler’ to get massage"

http://blogs.app.com/saywhat/2010/01/18/governor-releases-jailed-people-smuggler-to-give-him-massage/

Anonymous said...

On a different note, a quick drive through Garapan I noticed the Flame Tree Sako office has closed. Now what could that mean?