Variety Confirms That Governor Commuted Ice Dealer's Sentence

April 18, 2010

The Marianas Variety confirmed what KSPN News reported Friday evening -that Governor Fitial commuted Diaz's sentence for ice trafficking. Diaz was sentenced to 25 years without parole and served eight. The Saipan Tribune has not covered the story.


Apparently in the CNMI the governor does not make announcements regarding such actions and the Parole Board also does not issue a public notice. From the Variety:
Board of Parole Chairman Ramon B. Camacho told the Variety that Diaz, 51, was paroled on March 12, 2010 and has to comply to a “very strict set of conditions.”

Diaz now resides at the home of his sister in Afetnas, San Antonio.

According to the special conditions imposed by the Board of Parole, Diaz has to “compose and record a song” in Chamorro and English about drug abuse in the CNMI, as well as “conduct outreach [public education] at all public and/or private schools about drug abuse.”

Diaz’s composition has to be “publicly played on all the radio stations” and he has to provide a master disc to the Public School System “for educational purpose at all schools.”

Asked for copy of the governor’s order that commuted Diaz’s sentence, Camacho said his office could only provide a copy of the convict’s five-page Certificate of Parole and Terms and Conditions of Parole.

Camacho said relatives of Diaz asked the governor to commute the sentence.

Chief Parole Officer Joseph T. Guerrero told the Variety that other details regarding Diaz’s commutation of sentence must come from the governor’s office.
Good luck getting any details from the governor's office.

Also, in the Variety is a letter to the editor by Attorney Jane Mack. She categorized the action of the governor in commuting his sentence as "reprehensible." Jane pointed out that without the Marianas Variety and KSPN doing investigative reporting, the public would not have known that this man was out of jail. She suggested that it may be time for the local government to abolish the possibility of parole in sentencing.

From Jane's Letter:
I recognize that the Governor has the power and discretion to commute the sentence of David Tanaka Diaz. I recognize that his decision is not subject to judicial review. But I think the Governor exercised that power irresponsibly and to the jeopardy of the community. Why should this man get a break? What message are we really sending through this Governor’s action? Is this about connections? Is it about political favors and payback? Why did the Governor make this choice? Because it certainly isn’t about law enforcement or justice.

On the Board of Parole’s decision to grant parole:

Apparently after the Governor commuted Diaz’s drug trafficking, non-parolable sentence, all that was left was the sentence on the lesser crimes. I disagree with the decision by the Parole Board to grant parole on those, also.

I wonder who supported the parole? At the time of the original sentencing of David Tanaka Diaz, the CNMI Attorney General’s office asked for a sentence of 50 years. Did they suddenly change their position and decide he’s harmless? That curfew would be enough to rein in his criminal habits? Was the public notified before the Board of Parole reached its decision?

What makes me angriest is the possibility that this repeat, “threepeat” drug offender will be allowed access to our children. The Board of Parole has guaranteed that access by conditioning the release of Diaz on his doing community outreach to youth and creating a song to be played on the radio and at the schools.

I don’t want him doing any youth outreach. I think that is just a way for him to find easy prey for a continuation of illegal drug trafficking. I don’t want him singing a song that is played on the radio or in the schools. I don’t want our government to promote the possibility that any student thinks drug trafficking is a way to get airtime for your talent; I don’t want to create the possibility that any young child becomes a fan of David Tanaka Diaz. Is there any science, criminal justice experience, or rational thought to support such ridiculous terms for the release of David Tanaka Diaz? Did the Board of Parole consult with the PSS? Do they care about our children and our community?
These are excellent points and questions that beg for answers. Yet, this administration does what it wants and answers to no one so it is unlikely that any answers will be forthcoming.

Have any other prisoners had their sentences commuted?

It was Governor Pedro Tenorio who signed SB 12-102 that gave the governor the power to "exonerate and pardon a convicted felon." An April 1001 Saipan Tribune article stated:
SB 12-102, which is now Public Law 12-41, grants the Commonwealth governor and the Board of Parole a wider elbow room to discharge mandates stipulated under the existing law.

Under the law, the governor may grant an absolute pardon which frees a person without any conditions, terminates any punishment and exonerates the person from any guilt or conviction, while a conditional pardon depends on performance of some act by the person for its validity and the partial pardon which remits only a portion of the punishment.

The amendments also give the governor the authority to absolve the person from a portion of the legal consequence and restores one or more of the individual’s civil liberties after conviction.

However, the power of the governor and the Board of Parole is restricted by certain exemptions. For example, a person convicted of a crime for which a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment has been provided pursuant to the existing statute shall not be eligible for the parole until the mandatory minimum term of imprisonment has been served.

The new law also stipulated that a felon whose eligibility for parole was restricted by the sentencing court shall not be eligible for parole during the period of restriction.

Parole will also not be accorded to a person charged civilly and criminally and committed for the purpose of receiving treatment for mental illness, disease or defect, after an adjudication of guilt.

In addition, those sentenced to serve the life imprisonment shall not be eligible for parole until a term of at least 30 years has been served.

Despite the absolute power of the governor and the Board of Parole, the Legislature put in place a safety net to prevent irresponsible granting of parole by allowing the board to revoke any recommendations for pardon if violations has been clearly identified.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wendy,

While we know where fitial's heart is, we now know where Ramon B. Camacho's heart is also.

He is the chair of the municipal council and of the board of parole. He goes out in the news all the time preaching against crime, promoting neighborhood watch and so forth but then he goes and paroles one of the CNMI's hardest criminal.

Anonymous said...

Are Christina M. Babauta and Joseph Lee T. Guerrero still on the Parole Board?

Anonymous said...

The governor should change his name to the JOKER. He's got the smile and the administration is a JOKE.

Saipan Writer said...

PL 12-41 is found here: http://www.cnmilaw.org/pdf/public_laws/12/pl12-41.pdf

I don't see any restriction on the Governor's power to grant a pardon or commute a sentence.

Although the Board of Parole is restricted from granting parole during any period of time when the court has restricted parole, it is not clear whether that protection offers any solution to the present situation.

The sentence on the drug trafficking was commuted. There is no parole on that offense. Hence no direct violation of the statute.

There is no restriction on parole on the other, lesser offenses upon which the Parole Board granted parole. Hence no direct violation.

The question is whether a restriction on parole continues in effect if the Governor has commuted the sentence. That would seem unlikely.

Anonymous said...

"I support Proven Leadership," they said. Yeah right. This from the motley crew of BE. This has nothing to do about sentencing. It has everything to do with the Rule of Law... not Ben "I am the Rule" or "I am the Law." Our Community should be outraged... but not at David Diaz, but at Ed Buckingham; Ramon Camacho and the rest of the Parole Board; and Benigno Repeki Fitial-- the Commonwealth's Most despicable and corrupt leader in its history, bar none. He makes Oscar Rasa look like a choir boy.

Anonymous said...

Hi Wendy,

What's new about this?

This is how they like to run CNMI government and this is why they hate federalization. I don't expect any change from this administration, in fact, I want to be ready for the worst to come.

More criminals on the loose, more massage-gate, etc. etc.
Goodluck CNMI! you voted for him, so be it!!!

Anonymous said...

Fitialization: You asked for it, you got it!

Anonymous said...

This is so outrageous on many levels. The criminal justice system has been completely compromised by the senseless act of the Governor and the gutless complicity of the AG and the Parole Board. Diaz is a career offender. 290 grams of ice? Do you know how much damage that can do to our community? And we want him out-- as if we've completely won the war on Ice? And how was he treated while in DOC by Dolores San Nicholas? Did Dolores even speak up against this? DPS Commissioner? The Bishop? Victim Advocates? Why did everyone fall mute?

Anonymous said...

This is only one more example of the political machine we have elected. "We the People" means nothing to any of our current elected officials as far as I can see as everything they do is against public opinion and has a hidden agenda for one or another. Our Government is being operated like a Mafia. The Godfather is almighty and allows his cronies areas (positions) in which to siphon and leach all possible from it. It looks like their strategy is to overwhelm the public with so many violations, abuses, and just plain bad judgments that everyday becomes a blur with new wrong doings and we somehow let go of the stupid stuff they have done in the recent past. Maybe this all is material for a upcoming movie to follow Casino Jack. I guess the title would be "Uncle Ben's World and the Money of the Commonwealth". It is time to make your elected officials stand up for what is right and represent you. When was the last time if any, that your elected officials asked you what your opinion is (as a community via open forum, mailer, poll, etc. We elected them to be our representive and to fight for our (the peoples) needs.

Now the Governor wants to cut pay, cut jobs, to save money. I ask you, How many people have been hired, appointed, promoted since the Governor was re-elected. Everyone knows why the Government is low on money but with the constant threat of retribution, no one stands up and says it, including our so called "Representatives, both House and Senate. The worst is Nothing surprises me anymore when I see it from Uncle Ben. If anyone would stand up and file a complaint, who would they file it with, Bucky? That is like taking the Lamb to the Slaughter.

Anonymous said...

I remember when it use to be "One Man (Woman) one vote". Now it is "One Vote, One Job" Think about it.

Anonymous said...

thousands have been hired. thousands.