More on the Diaz Parole

April 20, 2010

The Marianas Variety reported that David Tanaka Diaz who had his sentence commuted by Governor Benigno Fitial was also given a weekend furlough "prior to his parole." In August 2002 Diaz was ordered to serve 25 years without parole after he was caught with over 200 grams of ice. At the sentencing hearing Assistant AG Daniel Cohan requested a 50-year prison term. Diaz had several previous arrests for drug charges and for robbery and assault of a Russian toruist at the Pacific Islands Club. The tourist sued both him and the PIC.

Governor Fitial commuted Diaz's sentence on February 4, 2010. On March 12, 2010 he was granted parole by the Parole Board. The Parole Board claims that notice was given in the form of an advertisement in the Saipan Tribune announcing the parole hearing.

The Saipan Tribune obtained a copy of Fitial's letter to commute Diaz's sentence. From the Tribune:

Gov. Benigno R. Fitial commuted the 25-year sentence of convicted “ice” trafficker David T. Diaz because of his “outstanding record” in prison-including painting a school bus stop and helping at the 2008 Liberation Day-as well as the support of the Department of Corrections and community members.

The governor said Diaz “has expressed remorse and regret for his actions.”

A copy of the governor's one-page commutation, obtained by Saipan Tribune, listed what Fitial said were “positive factors” that were “carefully considered” concerning Diaz's request for commutation.

“The applicant has served over eight years in the CNMI correctional facility and has an outstanding record in the facility including certificates for services involving the July 2008 Liberation Day, archaeological reconnaissance survey training, school bus stop painting in August 2008, road median painting in September 2008, cemetery cleanup project in October/November 2008,” Fitial said.
Members of the Parole Board are Chairman Joseph T. Camacho, Wally Villagomez of Tinian, Eugenio Villagomez of Tinian, Rose Ada-Hocog of Saipan Alexander Apatang of Rota and former member Mametto Ayuyu of Rota. Camacho is a former police major and is currently the chairman of the Saipan and Northern Islands Municipal Council. Attorney General Edward Buckingham is the board's legal counsel so one has to assume that he approved the conditions of the release. They included having the former prisoner record a song "to be broadcast on all the radio stations" and doing "outreach at all public/private schools on drug abuse."

Camacho was quoted by the Variety:

The Board of Parole wanted to give “ice” trafficker David Tanaka Diaz “an opportunity to become a changed man,” according to its Chairman Ramon B. Camacho.

Chief Parole Officer Joseph T. Guerrero said Diaz, 51, underwent “stringent questioning” by each member of the board.

“Mr. Diaz needed help, and we saw an opportunity to allow him to become a changed man,” said Camacho, an anti-crime advocate.

This was because Diaz showed good behavior and conduct while incarcerated since 2001, said Camacho.

Diaz was sentenced to a 25-year jail term without the possibility of parole. But Gov. Benigno R. Fitial commuted his sentence, which allowed him to seek parole.

Camacho said whenever the board convenes for parole hearings, their primary task is to ensure that an inmate/applicant will be a productive citizen when he or she returns to the community.

Camacho said each member of the board asked Diaz what he could do for the community.

It was board member Alexander Apatang from Rota who suggested that Diaz should compose and record a song about drug abuse in the commonwealth.

This was after the board learned that Diaz used to be a musician.

It is unreasonable to expect parents, schools, radio stations and the public to embrace such conditions. What were these people thinking?

How many other prisoners deserve "help?" All of them? How many others will be given the opportunity to become a "changed" person or to be given an "opportunity" to become a productive citizen? All of them? Why even have a prison on Saipan?

Stringent questions? How would someone who is before a parole board reply? Of course, if a person wants parole, he/she will give the answers that the board wants to hear in order to justify the release.

Former Judge Speaks Out on Parole

Former Associate Judge Juan T. Lizama said that the David Diaz's case was tried in local court rather than federal court because the local laws were stricter. The Marianas Variety reported:
Why was this particular case not prosecuted in federal court? One has to understand that the statute [P.L. 11-24] was just enacted and Mr. Diaz was the first test case,” Lizama told the Variety.

The case was prosecuted locally because the CNMI had stiffer sentences for “ice” trafficking.

According to Public Law 11-24, “The use of dangerous, highly addicting narcotic substances has become epidemic in the commonwealth…. In the Legislature’s opinion it has become necessary to impose severe penalties on those who, without conscience, would so prey on our society as to threaten its very survival.”

Lizama said: “And, so the question is, has the governor considered Mr. Diaz’s sentence to be one deserving commutation under the circumstances?”

Lizama said if Fitial “completed all of [the governor’s] statutory obligations when exercising his power and authority to commute sentences and issue pardons, especially taking into consideration what is the right thing to do for the public and for Mr. Diaz, then I don’t see any impropriety in the governor having commuted Mr. Diaz’s sentence.”

Lizama added, however, that “what is not to be ignored is the public’s need to know the details of how the process of commutation works and how the decision to commute Mr. Diaz’s sentence was arrived at.”

Commutation of sentences, he said, cannot be abused.
Furlough Policy
No one has disclosed if the Department of Corrections furlough policy. It seems outrageous that a prisoner who has been sentenced to 25 years withpout parole would be given a weekend furlough. Also, furloughed has been Vicente Aldan, husband of former DOC commissioner Dolores Aldan. Aldan was ordered to surrender his gun used in the violent crime as part of his plea deal. He still has not surrendered the gun, although he has been routinely given weekend furloughs. Who else has been furloughed?

Who decides who gets furloughed? Are there published rules or polices regarding furloughs, or is this another system based on nepotism and political favors? What are the restrictions? Does a third party have to sign off to accept responsibility for the released prisoner? How are any victims of the criminals notified that criminals are being released for weekend furloughs? For instance, in the case of Vicente Aldan, has his former common law wife been notified or warned each time he has been free during weekends? After all he held a gun to her head and pulled the trigger several times and he still retains possession of the gun.

What does the general public think of the current system that allows weekend furlough for violent criminals? Will the insanely lenient furlough system negatively impact tourism?

Writing Letters, Writing Songs
What evidence is there that criminals writing letters to their victims benefits anyone? Who would even want to get a letter from someone who attacked or abused them? What about a criminal writing a song?

Associate Judge David Wiseman sentenced former deputy of police, Francisco Muna Camacho, who beat up David Rosario inside DEQ headquarters. He received 7 days in prison, all suspended except for one day, one year of probation, a $500 fine, $25 court assessment fee, and a probation fee. Actually, he gets zero, nada, no time in jail because he already served one day so according to the Saipan Tribune, he walks. The defendant who pleaded no contest also has to write a letter of apology to the victim and undergo anger management counseling.

The Tribune stated:
"The government had charged Camacho with assault and battery, and disturbing the peace for allegedly beating up Rosario, DEQ's branch manager for wastewater, who sustained injuries on the left side of his body and right side of his face."
What's next? Sentencing a criminal to write a poem, a play, or perhaps a haiku?


Anonymous said...

Who else got parole and who else is out on furloughs? Why aren't our legislators looking at this NOW?

Anonymous said...

How about writing a limerick?

A prisoner named Dave writes a song.
We know in jail he belongs.
Ben set him free.
Are we safe, you and me?
This seems entirely wrong!

Haiku said...

A song for freedom
A letter to mock victims
No law in NMI.

Anonymous said...

It is ILLEGAL for convicts who have been classified as violent or dangerous (Diaz, with a prior for explosives, should have been so classified) to be out on any type of furlough, work release, etc. Check the DOC regulations, which are the law, in the absence of a statute. That means Diaz (and others, every day) are being let out ILLEGALLY to paint bus stops, putting the public at risk.

Clean this up now, CNMI Legislature.

Anonymous said...

"The Michigan Parole Board voted recently to release Layman from the remainder of the 8-to-30-year sentence that he received for two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct."

This scumbag raped a child.

Wendy did the CNMI do something to you in another life?

I understand why Jane utterly hates the CNMI and it's people but why do you?

BTW did you know that the ice trade began with Filipinos and Shabu-Shabu straight outta Manila? That's right, the meth problem in the CNMI is directly related to contract workers, primarily Filipinos.

Anonymous said...

NONI 8:22

Now Diaz is out I hope his next victim will be ur daughter, wife if ur single ur very close relative.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 8:22

Let me stress this - you are ANONYMOUS. Both Jane and I sign what we write. Furthermore, we don't write half of a story. What is the point of writing that a Michigan man was paroled when the article clearly states that the parole board reversed its decision to parole the rapist. Talk about taking something out of context.

I have absolutely nothing against the CNMI. I do, however have a problem with injustice, disregard for the law and lack of fundamental common sense that hinders the public. Whether it's spending $11 million on a lobbyist or allowing violent criminals furloughs and parole, it's not in the best interest of the public.

Really, the meth problem in the CNMI came from Filipino contract workers who don't even earn enough to buy the drug? Not from residents who went there to buy it? Could that be half of the story like the first one you quoted?

Anonymous said...

Actually, no, even contract workers earn enough money to buy shabu and bring it here. Check out the federal district court records for the past 20 years.

You are right, Wendy, that the personal attack on you is unsupported by the plain text of the comment or otherwise.

But again, the problem is not the anonymity, but the lack of merit to the comment. Comments can and should stand on their inherent value, rather than the identity of the commenter. The comment you rebutted has minimal value, if any.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 10:21

Yes, the comment would have had no merit if it was signed, but actually few people would make such an asinine comment and sign their name to it. And that is why being anonymous is relevant.

Captain said...

Last year (and so far this year)all of the "busts" in the phil. on the math labs have been Chinese run with a few Phil workers. This does not take into account the small time pushers and users.(Manila Times, Phil Star)

Last year in Guam more than 35 Phil. were apprehended at the airport returning from the Phil. with "ice". Mostly women. These are known as "mules", they are approached and given between $1-200 to carry this stuff to Guam.(PDN news)If these people are returning to Guam it means they hold US passports, green cards or are "visa" workers

How many Phil. contract workers (or otherwise) have been arrested in CNMI over the years for "ice"???

In the Phil.convicts sentences are usually "commuted" when they reach the aged of 70 yrs old.(ABS-CBN)
Maybe here this legislature can lower the age and have this gov "help" all of the drug and child molesters, have them all finish high school and college then employ them in the Govt.since most of the Gov. hires are ex-cons anyway. But at least he would have "educated" ones in the Govt.while they are reaking havoc in the community.

Anon 8:22 your comment about the parole in Michigan just mirrors what the sentiment are here in rand other blogs in regards to Diaz and this guys release, what's your point in regards to your attack on Jane and Wendy? I seem to have missed it.

Anonymous said...

It is relevant, but always apparent even without your overemphasis of that factoid. People can have valid reasons for anonymity. These include vicious personal and employment attacks by all sides of the spectrum. The facts submitted anonymously can be verified or debunked, and you might not receive them otherwise.

Opinions can easily be accepted or rejected on their merit.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:22 You're f..king freak!!

Do you know whose idea to bring these church images loaded with ice from Manila? My former boss! He's a chamorro, maybe related to you. He recruited innocent Filipinos to bring those stuff! He was once caught at the airport with those ice.

Hey! maybe you were one of his relatives/friends in the pot sessions then, huh!

Anonymous said...

locals brought in the ice. they wanted it. it was "good money brat"

Captain said...

BTW, since we are on "ice" There was very big bust in the Phil yesterday. 7.5 Kilo (about 16 pounds) of "ice" and a 9 billion peso lab.(44.25 peso to the dollar)This was in the city. This was a Chinese owned/operated "buy/bust" Three Chinese arrested. (no Filipino involved)(Phil Star)

There is a death penalty in the Phil. for drug pushers/makers although it has been awhile since the last execution.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:22

First and foremost, shabu is not a Filipino word. For your information, the ice trade did not originate from the Philippines, as well as the opium. Opium was invented by our another asian neighbor way back in 1800's. Again, Philippines and other countries are (illegaly)into this trade, including Saipan. The captain's right, most of the big bosses of ice & drug factories in the Philippines are foreign owned, with filipino workers employed. I don't need to explain to you why they work there,but the bottom line is the "pay". Counterfeiting, illegal gamblings, kidnap for ransom and other big crimes there are foreign run businesses, mostly by the other asian neighbor. If you don't believe me, I will give you a free tour there for you to see.

It's better for you to do a research or just even read the newspapers, what nationality has the most cases of drug trafficking and other drug related transactions? Not the Filipinos,it is the other asian national.

Now may I ask you the same, what do you have against the Filipinos?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

anon 7:44 a.m.

what do you mean "?" ?
a big ??????? for u too