Parole for Criminal Serving Time With No Parole

April 15, 2010

I received this comment on my post:
Anonymous said...
Is there truth that Fitial commuted the 20 year sentence of drug dealer David Tanaka Diaz and that Diaz is now a free man?

April 14, 2010 6:39 PM
Attorney Jane Mack wrote a post about Diaz on her site, The Saipan Writer, and the Marianas Variety ran a story about this today.

David Tanaka Diaz was arrested in 2001 for possessing over 290 grams of crystal methamphetamine (ice) and marijuana. From a September 5, 2001 Saipan Tribune article:
The 47-year-old Diaz was arrested in an operation by a combined team of law enforcers led by the Drug Enforcement Agency-CNMI Drug Task Force.

Aside from this, government operatives also seized a gun and a hand-held radio tuned to police frequency from Diaz’s car bearing license plate no. AAZ-097, which had been the subject of a search warrant issued by Superior Court Presiding Judge Edward Manibusan.

Department of Public Safety sources claimed that unlike other big confiscation, which were effected in ports, the alleged confiscation of drugs from Diaz was the biggest seizure on land over the past three years.
A article reveals that Diaz had been arrested previously and had served time in prison for other drug-related offenses:
Verification on the criminal record of Diaz showed that he has two other pending charges before the CNMI Superior Court. One of the charges include a count each of trafficking and possession of a controlled substance, which was filed sometime in November last year.

The other case, involving burglary and assault offenses, was filed early this year. Police said Diaz was out on bail after posting a $20,000 bond for these charges, when joint operatives from the DPS, the Customs Service, the AGO’s Investigation Unit and the Drug Enforcement Agency-CNMI Drug Task Force enforced the search warrant.

"In 1992, David T. Diaz was convicted in the Northern Mariana Islands’ US District Court and CNMI local court for drug related offenses," said Bernard K. Santos, a DPS detective, in an affidavit. "Subsequently, Diaz was convicted and [he] served [his sentence] in Federal Prison."

Diaz, a resident of Afetnas in San Antonio, was spotted inside his vehicle in Garapan Wednesday last week. Sensing that government agents were swooping down on him, he attempted to flee, but his car rammed into an unmarked police vehicle that sustained extensive damage. The two DPS detectives who were inside the police car sustained minor injuries.
In April 2002 a five person jury found Diaz guilty of drug-trafficking,criminal mischief charges. He was also found guilty of unsafe backing, fleeing/attempting to elude a police officer, hit-and-run, reckless driving and illegal possession of a controlled substance. Judge Lizama imposed the following sentence on the last five charges:
A $500-fine and restitution to the Department of Public Safety on the unsafe backing charge; six months incarceration with a $500-fine on the fleeing/attempting to elude a police officer charge; six months incarceration with a $500-fine for the hit-and-run charge; six months incarceration with a $1,000-fine for the reckless driving charge; and a $50 fine for illegal possession of a controlled substance.
In August 2002 Judge Lizama sentenced Diaz to 30 years in jail for the drug trafficking charges with the last five years suspended and the first 25 years of the sentence to be served without parole. It was ordered that upon his release from jail Diaz would pay a fine of $2,000 and undergo drug counseling. The judge sentenced Diaz with one year prison time for the criminal mischief charge and suspended all of it.

Diaz is a repeat offender and is a violent criminal, which could be why the judge gave him such a stiff sentence and ordered no parole. The January 2001 assault and burglary case where Diaz broke into a hotel room at the PIC and assaulted a Russian tourist demonstrates how violent he was:
The defendant, David Tanaka Diaz, is being accused by government prosecutors of unlawfully entering the Pacific Islands Club with the intention of committing a felony inside the hotel resort last February 2, 2001.

The 41-year-old suspect also faces allegations of striking, beating, wounding, and causing bodily harm to a foreign tourist that same day.

Police reports earlier state that the defendant entered PIC room 129 while its occupants were at the poolside.

A Russian lady, who returned to the room to pick up some personal items inside the closet was astonished to find the suspect hiding among the guests’ hanging clothes.

Caught off-guard from being discovered, Mr. Diaz punched the woman on the mouth and swiftly fled the room.

The lady attempted to stall him from escaping but reports said the suspect took another swing at her on the mouth.
The Russian tourist sued the PIC and Diaz as was reported in the Saipan Tribune. The article indicates that Diaz broke intio the room twice within a matter of days:

In a complaint filed before the Superior Court yesterday, the foreigner cited that last January 26, 2001, she had found Mr. Diaz trespassing in her hotel room at PIC. But when she yelled for help, the suspect immediately ran out of the room.

Ms. Fedorova and her companion, Pavel Soloviov reported the incident to the front desk clerk of the hotel.

The plaintiffs alleged that the PIC security and management did nothing to follow up on the incident.

On February 2, 2001, Ms. Fedorova again found the suspect inside her quarters, without the room occupant’s consent.

Court records state that Mr. Diaz was inside the closet drinking a can of beer.

Finding herself alone with the suspect, Ms. Fedorova claims she was viciously attacked by Mr. Diaz, allegedly striking her in the face and kicking her body.

Since Diaz was sentenced in August 2002 without parole, that would mean he should remain in prison until 2027. Yet, as the Marianas Variety confirmed today, Diaz was paroled an astounding 17 years before the end of his sentence. He was granted parole on March 12, 2010. From the Variety:
But a Parole staffer said other details, or a copy of the parole document, could not be provided since Parole officials were not available or were off-island.

When sought for comment, Press Secretary Angel Demapan said the governor’s office was not privy to the decisions of the parole board.

But Demapan said it is the government’s policy to go after illegal drugs and their peddlers.

Attorney General Edward Buckingham told the Variety in a phone interview that he served as counsel for the Board of Parole.

Its chairman is Ramon B. Camacho, a former police major who now chairs the Saipan and Northern Islands Municipal Council.

“I will forward your inquiry to his office so he can provide you information on this case,” Buckingham said in his e-mail response to this reporter.

Some local lawyers and probation officers interviewed by this reporter said it was “interesting” to learn that a defendant sentenced to 25 years imprisonment without parole received parole.
A criminal who is sentenced to a term with no parole gets out of jail 17 years early after serving only 8 years of the sentence. Violent criminals are allowed weekend furloughs. Violent criminals are allowed to have possession of handguns that were ordered to be turned in as a condition of a plea agreement. Prisoners are taken from prison to give the governor a massage. An exodus of assistant attorneys from the criminal division of the OAG. The legal counsel of the Parole Board, AG Buckingham, not knowing anything about a huge miscarriage of justice like this? One would think that a legislative oversight committee would be investigating some of this.

Disclaimer: This is not a legal blog. No opinion or statement should be perceived as legal advice. All posts are the opinion of the author or contributors who are expressing their First Amendment rights. Good enough anonymous coward commenter?


Anonymous said...

This is nuts. No one is safe on Saipan. Stay away tourists. The criminals are running the lawless island.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 7:16

I don't understand how parole boards work, but it sure seems that they should and must be accountable to a law enforcement or judicial agency. Surely they have to report a decision that is made by the board to the OAG.

I really do not understand this. How can a person who was ordered imprisoned for 25 years without parole even be paroled? Did the governor pardon him as the anonymous person suggested?

Documents could not be retrieved? Really! They are not filed with the court or somewhere? The parole officers were all unavailable or off-island? Sure sounds like another run-around.

Anonymous said...

Like most other autonomous agencies, there is no real accountability.

The CNMI Parole Board has been the dirty little secret of the CNMI. This abuse goes back decades, at least since the days of AAG Cheryl M. Gill.

It is a way to bestow favors surreptitiously, without the fingerprints of politicians on those receiving this gratuitous "mercy." That way governors do not have to issue politically unpopular pardons, but the connected still get their relatives out.

Lax parole and generous furloughs have been institutionalized as features of the CNMI criminal justice system, under all CNMI political parties and governors.

Both parole and furloughs need a bright light shone on them in the CNMI. Yes, the Open Government Act would be a good place to start.

Wendy said...

Oh my goodness, what a blast from the past -Cruella de-Gill. I remember her well.

Where are the judges that issued these orders? Do they get a say in why their orders were violated? No parole, a prisoner gets out. No bail, a prisoner gets out to give a massage. In most places no, means NO.

Wendy said...

Oh, and if you look up "Board of Parole" under the governor's website you get NOthing. Look here: Board of Parole

Anonymous said...

Well, it's not really a department, but an autonomous agency.

Like MVA, CPA, CUC, PSS, NMIRF, etc.

It would be interesting to know who is now on the Board of Parole and who appointed them.

Captain said...

I thought that an upcoming convening parole board was supposed to have an anouncment in the papers etc. of the time and date of the hearing so any interested person could appear for or against a certain convict.
Also all involved "victims" of a convict would also be sent a notice of the hearing.
That is the way it is done in Hawaii anyway.
I do not know about other states or if this varies from state to state.
It is also interesting to see this AG involved in this. It seems like anything that is bordering on "illegal" or underhandedness this AG is involved.Hopefully soon he and the "puppet master" will make a serious mistake that will bring the Feds down on them big time.

What happens in this case when a sentence is "commuted" by an outside source? What jurisdiction does a sentencing Judge have after the fact, and if the Judge is retired who has the authority to "but in"?

Anonymous said...

this is beyond belief! yes, the Parole Board meeting is suppose to be open to all. this dirtbag had something like 290 grams of ice. imagine if he was not local. he'd be in a federal pen somewhere rotting like he should be.

Anonymous said...

By that point the judiciary's role is over.

Separation of powers.

Saipan Writer said...

Anon 1:06 PM--I disagree. Courts retain jurisdiction to enforce their orders. They can certainly revoke parole when granted.

The real criminal act in this --besides the ice trafficking-- is the continuing refusal of the Fitial administration to provide access to journalists of basic documents that should be available under the Open Government Act.

What document was used for the release of David Tanaka Diaz? That's what we need to see and know about.

Wendy said...

Jane is correct. There is no other administration on U.S. soil that could get away with the crap that this administration gets sway with. The people deserve answers and should demand answers. The documents have to be made public. This is not a joke. The furloughing of a violent criminal who has possession of a gun is not a joke. Someone could get hurt or even die if this lawless system is allowed to continue. This seriously, is utter madness.

Anonymous said...

First off, no where on U.S. soil except the CNMI, does a first offense drug distribution case conviction carry a mandatory 25 years without parole. New York who formerly had the title of having the harshest first time drug sentences of 15 years mandatory recently eliminated their 1yr mandatory distribution sentence.

Prisons are filling up and with shortfalls in state budgets, state governments are cutting prison funds and non-violent prisoners are being let out early throughout the country. And every governor has the power of pardon and commutation of sentences, so without the judiciary the Governor can shorten a sentence or remove the guilty verdict entirely.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 5:59

First off, one should always research before they profess to something. You are incorrect. Here is an example from Illinois of a 25 year sentence. A Utah man got 55 years. There are many instances of sentences that are as long as the Diaz sentence! Diaz was not just a user but a dealer. At the time he was arrested it was the largest drug bust ever in the CNMI. He was a repeat offender and also involved in violent crimes and assaults. Is there a reason you are making excuses?

We know that "every governor has the power of pardon..." We also know that the CNMI prison is not full. Additionally, we know that every governor who has pardoned a prisoner would admit to it and explain when asked. People would like to know why a violent drug dealer was paroled and WHO was responsible. Get it?

Anonymous said...

Isn't Diaz related to the guv?

Anonymous said...


Please reread my post. Illinios DOES NOT have a MANDATORY sentence for drug distribution. You can (not saying you will) receive probation for drug distribution in Illinios. Mandatory means the judge has no control, and if the judge thought the person was the nicest guy in the world, he would still have to impose the mandatory sentence. The CNMI has the most severe mandatory drug distribution sentence structure on U.S. soil.

Diaz was given the minimum 25 year sentence. If Wiseman thought this particular case was more severe than the minimum 25 yr. sentence (quanity, prior record), he could have imposed more than the 25 year minimum.

If you have no record and sell one speck of meth, and you are found guilty in the CNMI, you will serve AT LEAST 25 years in jail. If you sell one speck of meth in any of the 50 states and you are found guilty, will most likley have the POSSIBLITY of probation and not one day in jail (not saying you will).

Anonymous said...

Yes of course every governor has the power to pardon and commute sentences. But where else but in the CNMI does the governor commute the sentences of violent repeat methamphetamine dealers? And where else but in the CNMI does the AG help attempted murderers keep their guns after they dry fire them in their ex-wife's face five times? Did Diaz pay the governor for his commutation? Does the "C" in Covenant stand for criminal?

Anon 1:06 PM said...

Saipan Writer said...

Anon 1:06 PM--I disagree. Courts retain jurisdiction to enforce their orders. They can certainly revoke parole when granted.

The real criminal act in this --besides the ice trafficking-- is the continuing refusal of the Fitial administration to provide access to journalists of basic documents that should be available under the Open Government Act.

What document was used for the release of David Tanaka Diaz? That's what we need to see and know about.

Jane, you are practically committing legal malpractice. You haven't practiced criminal law in decades.

There is a big, big difference between probation (in which a court retains jurisdiction) and parole or pardon and commutation, in which it does not.

Your hatred of Fitial is so extreme that you blame him for things over which he legally has no control, namely the Board of Parole. That's who any OGA request should be addressed to, not the Governor.

This blog is replete to "citations" of law without any authority whatsoever, a practice which, unfortunately, carries over to CNMI courts and judges. You should be setting an example, Jane, because people trust and rely on you as a lawyer.

Wendy said...

Jane is correct. There is no other administration on U.S. soil that could get away with the crap that this administration gets sway with.

And you are practicing law without a license. Fitial may have his flaws, but is not the source of all evil. Place blame where it is properly due. In this case, in the decades-long leniency of the CNMI Board of Parole.

The U.S. abolished parole in 1984.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 1:06

Practicing law without a license by expressing First Amendment rights and questioning why violent criminals are paroled after they are sentenced to a term without parole is practicing law? Asking why a violent criminal who has access to a gun is given weekend furloughs upsets you?

Your support of the Fitial Administration is so intense that you are blinded. Who is responsible for overseeing the actions of a parole board? Not the administration? The Parole Board is listed directly under the Governor on his website and the papers report that the AG is their legal counsel.

People have a right to ask questions and express opinions. The governor doesn't know what is going on in the OAG? Doesn't have privy to the Aldan case even though his wife works with the governor in a "special" position? Who appoints the parole board members? Is it someone in the administration? Does the governor approve appointments? The governor doesn't read the paper? He didn't ask to have a prisoner brought to his house for a massage? The governor knows nothing? Really?

Usually extremely defensive people and people who make unfounded allegations against those who express opinions that differ from their own have something to hide or are intertwined with the ones they are defending. Of course, who would know what your motives are because you, anonymous coward, don't even have the integrity to sign your name to your poison messages.

Anonymous said...

At the risk of practicing law without a license, (too funny) let me add my two cents. The Fitial Administration is responsible for the shenanigans at the AGO, for CUC violations, for the disaster at the CHC, for blowing money on legal battles and consultants and asking others to accept austerity, for putting unqualified and corrupt C-Party people in positions for which they do not qualify, for turning a blind eye to corruption and criminal activity, and for a flood of political games, nepotism and lawlessness that is leading the NMI to its demise. Is he the source of all evil? No, but he is inching his way up there to take his place with the most corrupt and dangerous leaders of all-time.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:06

Watch the KSPN2 news broadcast from Friday, if you can. Bucky admits that Diaz was only eligible for parole because the governor commuted his sentence first, "a purely discretionary act."

Anonymous said...

8:09 Clarification on your comment. The federal government abolished parole in 1984, but most states continue to grant parole and have parole boards.

Anon 1:06 PM said...

No poison. Just fact.

Now things become more clear. The Governor apparently partially commuted the sentence of Diaz to remove the "no parole" condition. So I was wrong about the Governor's non-involvement.

Then the Parole Board released him.

These are both actions unreviewable by the judiciary under the CNMI and U.S. constitutions. Not that some Fitial-hater might not try, putting the OAG even deeper into the whole in it's efforts toward justice.

As misguided as this decision by the Governor might seem, we should look at the ultimate cause:

The legislative "feel-good" statute imposing a 25-year mandatory minimum. Just like our $200 minimum for littering. Right.

When you overreact and impose a draconian punishment regime, it is no surprise that hardly anyone gets convicted of that offense!

If we had a moderate, ordinary sentencing statute -- instead of some puffed-up legislator trying to prove how "tough on crime" he was -- we would have better enforcement.

This goes for drug trafficking, copper theft, labor abuse, and littering.

And you have to actually give enough resources and independence to the OAG to enforce the law.

Wendy said...

Anon 1:06

No, not fact; it is poison bs. Like this line: Fitial may have his flaws, but is not the source of all evil. Place blame where it is properly due. Who said, "Fitial is the source of all evil?" Not me, so don't attribute that to me or imply that I said that.

Why can't you distinguish between a Fitial-hater and people who support justice, open government, and honesty? Is that so difficult?

Anonymous said...

Wendy, "go girl" This is totally absurd with this AG and Gov. Also what relation to the Gov. is this guy?

Anonymous said...

Does Fitial ever listen to any of his advisers? What's the use of using taxpayers' money to pay his advisers? What a joke! Circus is here to stay!

Anonymous said...

11:25 Yeah he listens to his advisors. Look what dumb butts they are! Schemer, Give me the Willies Willens, Pit Bull Dolores Aldan, F**kingham...What do you expect?