CNMI Legal News

August 9, 2010

The three former CNMI officials arrested in the CUC-Rydlyme scandal have hit another wall in their quest for freedom. Visiting U.S. District Court Judge Mark Bennett filed an order denying the defendants motion to "Settle Differences" and to Settle the Record."

Timothy Villagomez was sentenced to seven years and three months in prison for his involvement in the Rydlyme corruption scandal. His sister, Joaquina Santos and her husband, James Santos were sentenced to six years and six months in prison each for their involvement in defrauding CUC and the federal government.

On July 23, 2010 the defendants filed a Motion to Settle Record.The trio wanted to rewrite events to state that the public was excluded from jury selection during their trial. The defendants claimed that the court record does not reflect "that members of the public were entirely excluded from jury trial."

In his August 6, 2010 order, the judge stated that the motion was an "eleventh hour contention that the public was totally excluded from jury selection."

Former Lt. Governor Timothy Villagomez remains incarcerated in the United States Penitentiary in Tuscon, Arizona until December 17, 2015.

Joaquina Santos will spend the next six years at the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, California, which is a low security facility for female prisoners. Their web-site says the facility is located 20 miles southeast of Oakland on the Camp Parks Army Reserve Forces Training Area Military Base.

James Santos, husband of Joaquina Santos, is being held at the Atwater, California Federal Penitentiary.

Background and previous articles can be located here.

Guerrero Released From Probation

Meanwhile Anthony C. Guerrero who was involved in the criminal activity with Villagomez and the Santos couple has been released from his probation.

In June 2009 Guerrero was sentenced for offense of Conspiracy to Defraud the United States, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371. The request for release described his conditions of probation, which have been met:
Mr. Guerrero was sentenced to three years of probation with the following conditions: not commit another federal, state, or local crime; not unlawfully possess a controlled substance and refrain from any unlawful use of a controlled substance; the mandatory drug testing requirement was suspended based on the Court's determination that the defendant poses a low risk of future substance abuse; submit to the collection of a DNA sample at the direction of the U.S. Probation Office; comply with the standard conditions of supervision as adopted by the court; be prohibited from possessing a firearm or other dangerous weapon or have such weapon at his residence; complete 500 hours of community service under the direction of the U.S. Probation Office; and pay a $6,000 fine and a $100 special assessment fee.
In July 13, 2010 Designated U.S. District Court Judge Robert Bryan ordered that "discharged from supervision and that the proceedings in the case be terminated."

Leon Guerrero Found "Not Guilty"

The 12-member jury in the trial of the police detective accused of extorting money from illegal taxi cab drivers was found innocent by a jury. Christopher Leon Guerrero retired from the DPS after his arrest, and was reportedly celebrating the verdict and his retirement.

From the Marianas Variety:
In an e-mail to the Variety, Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric O’Malley, who prosecuted the case, said; “Obviously I am disappointed. I think the evidence we presented was overwhelming. But the [U.S.] government’s job, and my job, is just to introduce facts as completely and as clearly as I can. From there, it is the jury’s job to decide what to do with it. I’m satisfied with the job we did in this case.”

The jurors started their deliberation on Friday morning. They recessed at past 4 p.m.

They convened again at 8:30 yesterday morning. At around 3 p.m., they told Judge David Carter that they had reached a verdict for count two of the extortion charges against Deleon Guerrero.

Carter provided the jurors final instructions at about 3:15 p.m.

At past 4 p.m., the jurors said they had reached a verdict for both counts.
Comments on the Marianas Variety website reflected disbelief in the verdict. One compared the former cop to O.J. Simpson; another referred to the jurors as "dirty jurors" and Leon Guerrero as a "dirty cop" who should be behind bars. One comment was supported by others:
Magofna August 10, 2010 01:11PM
A jury of Leon Guerrero's peers is a jury of like-minded people who would love to shakedown a foreign worker just as much as this cop does. This kind of verdict is called "Jury Nullification."

"Not Guilty" is a technical legal term. Contrary to the popular understanding it does not mean "innocent." We think "Not Guilty" means only that the jury didn't have the integrity to convict the perpetrator. The thinking public's opinion, based on experience, is that Christopher Leon Guerrero ain't no saint… if you know what we mean. His legend is notorious.

The "third eye" will be on the boys of DPS full time now. The FBI ain't gonna stop watching you and your "peers," bro.
In the CNMI only residents can serve on juries.  The nonresidents that make up about half of the population are not represented on CNMI juries.


Anonymous said...

A well put comment regarding non-representation of nonresidents on juries. So a foreigner is not judged by a jury of his "peers" of which at least 40% are nonresidents. The question is this: when are the judges going to rule in favor of fairness and allow it? Do they have the temerity to do the right thing to ensure justice?

Captain said...

That is an interesting thought, although it is well known, I personally really never thought about the effect that status given the CW would have an effect on the jury pool.
The only time I have ever thought about who is on the jury is when there is an occasion that a CW worker goes on trial for a crime. (I never thought about it in drug related trials)
Yes that would put a scare in all of the local criminals if and when it turns out that the CW are available for a jury pool.
It would kill the "family jury pool". (along with the family vote for the elected)

Anonymous said...

It was pure arrogrance that sent these folks to jail. The actual crime was weak character, but they could have saved themeselves jail time (or at least a long sentence)if they had just shown extreme remorse for their deeds.
Instead, they tried to rely jury nullification. No, I won't step down from Lt. Governor, No, we won't take a plea bargain, No, we won't put on a defense, No, we won't admit guilt at sentencing. Hey, were're "special" right? At any of these points they could have done the right thing, but they thought their fellow citizens would not convict them. Guess what, they did and now your doing the time.
I bet when the when the writing was on the wall, if he had quit, done a very tearful apology, taken care of restitution, and vowed to never work in government again, he and his fellow folks would be looking forward to gettting out about now. In the Federal system you're not really gonna get the 90 day thing for this.
Bad Strategy, Good Jury, Hard Time.

Anonymous said...

Nowhere in the United States do non-citizens serve on juries. Like voting, jury service is a right and responsibility of citizenship.

Anonymous said...

7:38 Very true and nowhere on US soil is the nonresident population so high. Time for green cards for legal nonresidents