It's a Crime

March 6, 2010

When I lived in the CNMI I picked up my new truck at the dock and drove it home. I never took the key out of the ignition until I turned it over to a new owner many years later when I was leaving the island. We only locked our doors if we were going off-island. Definitely one thing that was so amazing about the CNMI beside the natural beauty was that there was very little violent crime. Of course, that was in the 1980s and 1990's. Apparently, that is not the case now.

In the last few days Saipan newspaper have reported some scary and horrific crimes. A jobless foreign contract worker, Larry Gonzalez, was assaulted Monday in front of Kagman High School while his former teenage girlfriend looked on from a nearby shop, Luyi's Computer and Repair.

Gonzalez was reportedly hit in the neck with a "hard object" and punched in the face by his assailant who was identified as the girl's former boyfriend, Shane Jonathan Hocog. The victim fell to the sidewalk hitting his head on the pavement where he was reportedly then kicked by Hocog. Police were called to the scene around 5:35 pm.

Apparently medics and police officers dispatched to the scene claimed that the victim refused transport to CHC for treatment. From the description in the press, it appears that the victim was in no shape to coherently make a decision about his treatment. The Saipan Tribune reported:
Manacop said that after the medics completed their assessment and treatment of Gonzales, police officer Joseph Magofna was notified that Gonzales refused to be transported to CHC.

Magofna tried to interview Gonzales, but the victim said his head was really hurting and that he could not remember what happened. Gonzales opted to stay inside his vehicle. The officer left.

At 9:08pm, Magofna was dispatched to CHC after DPS learned that Gonzales was now in the emergency room. Medics informed the officer that they went back to the scene and transported Gonzales to CHC.

At 9:08pm, Magofna was dispatched to CHC after DPS learned that Gonzales was now in the emergency room. Medics informed the officer that they went back to the scene and transported Gonzales to CHC.

It was the owner of Luyi's Computer who called for assistance after finding the victim unconscious inside his vehicle.
Should the officer have left a severely injured and disoriented man in his vehicle to fend for himself? The victim apparently could not even remember what happened, surely a sign of concussion or severe injury. He was alone in the vehicle for about four hours without medical assistance until a concerned citizen called for help.

It was reported that Gonzalez was comatose when he finally reached CHC and was put on life support. He died three days later from massive brain injury. He should have been transported to the hospital immediately. Does the DHS have any protocol on situations like this? Could his life have been saved if he had received immediate medical assessment and care?

The Tribune reported that Hocog was charged with voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault and battery, and assault and battery and was being held without bail. It was reported that assistant attorney general George Hasselback said the charges may be changed to murder.

The Marianas Variety reported:
His immediate relatives in Pinamalayan, Mindoro Oriental, a province south of Manila, the Philippines had already been notified of his demise.

“We don’t know how to bring his remains home. We are requesting assistance from the [Philippine] government and other concerned agencies or individuals,” Winnie, the victim’s younger brother, said in a telephone interview with the Variety.

Their 68-year-old father already knew what had happened while their relatives were still assessing the condition of Gonzales’ 63-year-old mother before informing her of the death of her second to the eldest son.

A telegram had been sent to Gonzales’ nine-year-old daughter and her mother, currently based in southern Philippines, the victim’s brother said.

Gonzales and the mother of their child were not married.
The Filipino community is accepting donations to repatriate his body. He had an outstanding labor complaint against his former employer Aqualite Water Company.

The Saipan Tribune reports that his friend Miriam Buatis and United Filipino Organization president Olive Yana are asking the community's help to repatriate Gonzales to the Philippines. Buatis can be contacted at 235-1225 or at 234-2233, while Yana can be contacted at 285-7893 or at 234-6529.

Thursday a five year old girl was kidnapped when a family was doing their laundry. The child was heard screaming from the boonies near the laundromat about 30 minutes after she was reported missing. The Marianas Variety reported that a suspect was identified.

From the Variety:
Between 9 and 9:15 p.m., while her parents were loading their laundry baskets into their car, the victim was playing on a plastic toy horse inside the laundromat while the older brother was watching the victim, police said.

After loading their laundry, the mother walked into Kevin’s Video for a few minutes.

After exiting Kevin’s Video, the mother located her son but was unable to find her daughter who was last seen on the toy horse.

After failing to find her, they called 911.

Police, family members and witnesses from the laundromat assisted in the search.

About 30 minutes later, the child was discovered when witnesses heard her screaming from the boonie area west of the laundromat

“The victim was crying hysterically and was transported by an ambulance to the Commonwealth Health Center emergency room with her mother for further treatment,” Tarkong added.

The victim, Tarkong said, was lured by the suspect who offered her money.

He then grabbed her and took her against her will toward the boonie area.

Tarkong said the assailant then took her to an abandoned house.

“[The suspect] walked into the house and came out with what the victim described as an axe and a knife,” Tarkong said.
The victim managed to escape and ran away screaming, he added.
Will the police find the attacker? In 2009 a nine year old girl was raped, chocked and left for dead. That case remains unsolved. Could the rapist and kidnapper be the same person? Violent child predators need to be found and locked up.

Of course, no place is free from violent crime, but it's sad that the CNMI's crime rate seems to be increasing. Such a beautiful place to have such ugly news. The unsolved rape cases, shooting of innocent tourists, murders, and kidnapping of a child is not the news one expects to hear from the CNMI.


Anonymous said...

There is no fear of reprisal here in the CNMI, or fear of jail time. We see so many crimes committed with penalties that in no way fit the crime. The majority of the time, the offender receives a minimal sentence of only days with years of probation.

Time and time again, we see individuals walking among us that have committed crimes from petty thief to Trafficking Ice. We see our elected officials covertly or overtly breaking our laws and trust only to be hidden, suppressed or promoted. Until such time as as we hold everyone accountable for their actions and punish them accordingly, things will stay the same.

I believe the justice system if utilized correctly would work as intended to punish/rehabilitate those that deserve/need it, but at this time, it is just not working. There are too many loopholes, high prices lawyers, money to change the facts, lenient Judges, and plain old corruption to allow the system to work as intended.

We are landlocked on this small piece of land and it is hard to believe that we can not control the flow of stolen goods. Most items seem to end up on pawn shops or recycle centers. How hard can it be to monitor our pawn shops. Is not an I.D. required to pawn/sell an item? Are not listings of stolen goods distributed to all pawn shops for monitoring? Are the pawn shops held accountable for buying stolen goods listed on the listings?

Violence is becoming commonplace here of late. From Battery to Murder, we read about it daily. Now we can add Kidnapping of a child to our fears.

I feel lucky that I have only had minor items stolen from my property and have been spared from violent crimes. I feel lucky that I am still free and not imprisoned for I know that if someone were to kidnap one of my family, I would ensure that the individual responsible would be held accountable. Long before our justice system was in place, there was another justice system where victims or their family/friends would punish the offender.

All the crime, political corruption, and dictator style governing, fear of reprisal for trying to stand up and object, is all turning in to one big blur and we just don't know where or how to fix it.

CNMI wake up. Make our elected officials do their job. Make the Judicial system do their job. Make the Law Enforcement do their job. Make yourself do your job and provide and protect your families. Make those that commit these criminal acts pay.

Anonymous said...

Noni 9:10 You are right on the money. There just is no accountability, punishment or consequences for law breakers. Or the ones that are actually caught (if the cops don't turn a blind eye) get a slap on the wrist. When our governor can take a federal prisoner out of jail for a massage and there are no consequences, what can we expect?

Anonymous said...

Wendy, the same day the child kidnapping story broke the newspapers ran another story about a drunken man who went crazy and tried to stab a bunch of people in a restaurant, cut off another man's finger, fled the scene and caused an accident, and was charged with a DUI and assault all in the same night.

Govendo allowed him to post bail at $1000 and now he is walking around free. Another guy appeared in Govendo's court that same day who was caught growing pot in his backyard. Govendo made him post bail at $3000 -- three times the amount as the crazy dude who almost killed people!

The CNMI (in)justice system is just-insane.

Anonymous said...

Whatever happened to Patrick Calvo? Is he in jail for child molesting? Did he register as a sex offender?

Anonymous said...

just an observation:
1. if a crime is committed by an alien to a fellow alien, the punishment is harsh and the bail is high;
2. if a crime is committed by an alien to a local, punishment are hasher or bails are higher;
3. if crime is committed by a local to a local, it is just fair.
4. if a crime is committed by a local to an alien, the punishment is not as harsh and bail is low.

to add insult to injury, "they" blame the aliens because they're on this island. investigation tends to divert the focus to a different angle like tarnishing the alien victim's personality right away instead of focusing to the crime committed to the unfortunate victim.
read L. Marquez' case; read the article about the rape & assault to the 9 year old girl, questioning why the parents did not wake up or did not hear what was happening. several years ago, i have personally experienced an injustice from a policeman. a boy was harassing my friends in my house because we were having fun, drinking & eating. his parents came and defended the boy and accused us of disturbing the peace while it was the other way around. we called up the police because the situation was escalating to a more violent one. here came the policeman and surprisingly arrested my alien friend. it happened that the policeman is the brother in law of the harrasser. justice? no! bonus story: two years ago that boy was arrested together with his uncle, another brother in law, in Kagman related burglaries. guess what? the victims were local!

most cases have not been solve if there are no tippers, especially if the crime's victim is an alien or an haole.

most sentences are "suspended" and so lax. most of the convicted offenders are just getting a slap on the wrist.

most cases that are solved are those cases wherein the victims & the suspects are both local.

anon 9:01 a.m. is correct. offenders have no fear of jail time, free food & lodging.

Anonymous said...

correction: read Gonzales' case, not Marquez.

Saipan Writer said...

I disagree with some of the assumptions in the comments.

I too lived here when we didn't lock doors. I knew a family that I thought was too poor to own a door because the doorway was always completely open, until a typhoon when they closed the door they really did have. We just didn't need to close up our houses. No one would ever worry about kidnapping. There was violence (murders and rape, too) but there was a lot of peaceful time between incidents.

There has been an increase in violence here. There is some violence happening all around us every day.

But I don't think there has been an increase in tolerance or a change in the way we handle crime--I think we've always been rather lenient on crime, rather tolerant and "forgiving." We have always had some disparity in "justice" based on race and ethnicity. That these practices are not good may be a given--but fixing them won't necessarily lessen crime now, because these practices are not what is causing the increase in crime. (They just exaccerbate how badly we feel about it.)

So I don't think our attitude toward crime is what is at the root cause for the increase. I think the increase relates more to an increase in drugs in the community, lack of employment and opportunities to do something meaningful, glorification of violence through those "cage fighting" and other fighting "sports," and a general despair and feeling of frustration.

We should ban cage fighting and withdraw financial support for all of those fighting sports. We should amp up our efforts to eliminate illegal drugs in the community. And we absolutely must improve our wholesome educational, vocational, and recreational opportunities. Our economy, I believe, will follow when we have a better civic life and healthier community.

Anonymous said...

more crazy crimes:

the teacher said...

The CNMI is the most peaceful non-violent place I have ever lived. We are not perfect but our occasional violence is highlighted in the news compared to any US city.

We are in position to nearly eliminate narcotics, the cause of crime everywhere. Eliminating pawn shops would also take a bite out of petty theft, which does seem to be increasing as the economy falls.

The MHS incident was a terrible tragedy in 08, but how many communities can claim their first and last murder of the year in November? CA, Texas, Florida, not to mention DC or Detroit and every other US city is more dangerous than us.

Hopefully US labor and immigration will help clear chronically unemployed and foreigners involved in criminal activity.

Anonymous said...

Hey teacher look at the statistics. Are you sure that the unemployed and foreigners are the ones committing the worst and most crimes?

the teacher said...

Above - What statistics?

Please stop twisting what I say, as I said nothing about who committed the worst or most, simply that federalization should reduce the criminal element here and greatly reduce the chronically unemployed, which should help the CNMI.

the teacher said...

CGWs should be able to apply for US aid now, becuase if they are legal until 2011, and hopelessly unemployed, this means children are socially at risk, which should be addressed immediatly.

Anonymous said...

anon 11:46 a.m. why the alien? i think you are thinking what i'm thinking. V.S.,what can you say about this?

Anonymous said...

With the issuance of basically every alien worker getting an umbrella permit, the worst is not over. Not only can every umbrella permit holder work as many jobs as they want, they don't have to work any. Employers will soon be weeding out the non productive workers. Many of these workers will not find or seek other jobs as employers will now seek only the qualified and motivated people to hire. More and more unemployed will be seeking alternate income. Guess where they are going to get it.

Anonymous said...

There you are again Teacher, posting without thinking and no references....what kind of teacher are you?

Anonymous said...


For the population size the CNMI has a tremendously HIGH rate of crime. There are thousands of cities across the US with the same population or higher that have no recorded murders in their towns ever or every twenty or so years. So think you are safe, but you better lock your doors.

Melberlin said...

Think of what the Teacher advised and Anon 3/8 2:23PM. They are very helpful to all who can't find a job while they are legal. But make sure this will not be a source of difficulties in getting your permanent status (if ever there any in the future, nobody knows right?) as Kara Mailman's article about having a gov't economic assistance. But not all aliens are qualified, only your US children.

Anyway, Teacher, you don't have any statics about crimes in the CNMI because they don't have anything recorded, even a research is not helpful.