March 20, 2011

Since Benigno Fitial has been serving as governor there have been numerous changes in personnel, particularly in the CNMI Department of Public Safety. Clearly the musical chairs is politically motivated.  Now DPS Commissioner Sandy Tudela is out and Ramon Mafnas is in. In typical Fitial style, Commissioner Sandy Tudela was informed that he was being replaced in a letter.

Mafnas has been serving as the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections since shortly after massage gate when equally unethical Delores San Nicolas Aldan was replaced as commissioner. Aldan was involved in such activities as releasing her violent criminal husband from prison for weekend furloughs, being an accomplice in her husband violating his restraining order from his former common law wide, and of course releasing the federal prisoner from jail to give the governor a massage. Quite the résumé.

The new Commissioner of the Department of Corrections is reportedly the governor's son-in-law police officer Arnold Kaipat Seman. He also has an interesting résumé. In August 2009, DOC Sergeant Seman was arrested along with Corrections Officer II Manuel Quitano for allegedly beating an inmate.

From the August 27, 2009 Saipan Tribune:
The Office of the Attorney General charged Seman and Quitano with assault and battery, and misconduct in public office. In addition, the OAG charged Quitano with obstructing justice.

According to an investigation conducted by Juan Santos of the White Collar Crimes/Public Corruption Task Force, Seman and Quitano, both assigned to the Correction Emergency Response Team, assaulted inmate Robert Jake Palacios inside the Isolation Unit at DOC on June 17, 2009.
Apparently the victim was beaten while still in handcuffs according to a witness. How disgusting is this case? The investigation revealed serious abuses and an attempted coverup:
The Task Force learned that another Corrections officer had tried to convince Palacios to drop his complaint against the CERT officers in exchange for letting him out on home furlough and eventual transfer to the cell for misdemeanor offenders.

Quitano also allegedly tried to hit the face of another inmate who saw the beatings. The officer told the inmate that he didn't see the beatings.

The Task Force learned that CERT officers did not submit any incident report or any notice to their superiors at DOC.

CERT officers, at the alleged direction of Seman and senior officers, failed to record the activities surrounding the assault and the restraining chair.

The Task Force said CERT officers, however, recanted their first statements and then confirmed that the slappings had occurred.

The Task Force also discovered that the surveillance camera recordings for June 17 to 23 were missing.
The victim's mother wrote a letter to the editor exposing the incident. If she hadn't taken the time to make this public, it would have probably been covered up or ignored, like many law enforcement abuse cases.

Incredibly in September 2009, Judge Demapan dismissed all charges without prejudice so that the charges could be dealt with within the Department of Corrections through administrative proceedings. (Whatever those are.)  Why would a judge trust the DOC that had missing surveillance camera recordings handle the case?

I guess beating someone up while on duty in the CNMI means being rewarded with a promotion. That is what happened to Seman anyway. He was promoted from sergeant to captain.  He was one of the DOC officers who escorted the Chinese masseuse from prison to Fitial's house to give him a massage in January 2010.

It is absolutely incredible that this man would be selected to be the acting commissioner of the Department of Corrections. Seriously, the USDOJ Civil Rights Division needs to thoroughly investigate both the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Corrections.  Both agencies have personnel who have no business wearing a badge or carrying a weapon. (See also this recent post, Wrong Side of the Law.)


Anonymous said...

What is the difference between here and another town in the States with around a 50K population? Are people our here just more corrupt? I think people here are just about the same as anywhere else with two notable exceptions (although they also occur other places). The first is opportunity. Businesses and Governments should set up systems to keep "honest people honest". It is hard to prevent folks from stealing, but you can do things to deter it. Local businesses here do as good a job as they can with that, but the Government...I'm not so sure. Once people figure out a loophole that allows them to "take a little" then they will figure out a way to "take a lot". Add into this the likeihood of getting caught and the mild penalities if you do then it might be worth it. Second, expectations. I really do think there is an underlying expectation that no one thinks the worse of you if you lie, cheat, or long as it is from the Government or better, a business. I don't think as an island that it is encouraged (some people probably do), but is not a shameful act to do these things. The Government will not check references (they don't want to know, could cause problems). There are things you can do to get your family put out with you. You must make sure you spend Saturdays and Sundays with your family eating and drinking, not doing other things like soccer with your kids our volunteering of anything.
Personally, I don't see any reason to preserve a culture as stagant as this one.

Anonymous said...

Ray Mafnas as DOC or DPS Commissioner is an insult to all law abiding people. This guy was dishonorably discharged from the Marines for assaulting a commanding officer. What a wonderful little 3rd world nation we live in!

Anonymous said...

What's the story about Ray Mafnas?

Anonymous said...

He also assaulted a student at NMC. He almost hit us on the road in a road rage incident. His physically threatening people has been in the news a couple o times.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 6:58

I can't find any of this in back issues of the news. Where is this documented? (Not the road rage incident. You just documented that. ) I can't find anything about the NMC incident and others discussed in comments in the Marianas Variety.)

Anonymous said...

The incident at NMC happened in 1994 and had to do with the early education incubator program. He also threatened a teacher in that program. I do not know if he was ever prosecuted for either. He is a known hot head though and not someone who can "reform" DPS. This is just another Fitial crony with no qualifications who spent enough time in the military before being run out that he knows how to sound smart while being a racist pig.

Anonymous said...

In working with Ray I always found him to be quite intelligent, certainly much more so than many of Fitial's hangers on.

Most importantly, he is impeccably honest with a good sense of honor. He does not put up with petty (or gross) bribery and self-enrichment. I agree, he does have a hothead reputation, but a certain degree of former Marine toughness is necessary to deal with so much of the petty corruption that goes on within DOC or DPS.

He seems to have gained greater self-control over the years, and if he did have xenophobic tendencies (which I have never witnessed despite extensive personal interaction), he seems to have grown out of those, too.

What is the source of allegations he left the Marine Corps with less than an Honorable Discharge?

Anonymous said...

He was on the local tv news about the NMC incident several times. he was beligerant on the news too. He should not be charge with the police. He should be in jail himself.