August 4, 2012
|CNMI Attorney General Edward Buckingham was served|
with this summons before stepping on an airplane with his
wife Pamela to leave the CNMI. He must appear in court
Monday, August 6, 2012. (Click to enlarge)
CNMI Attorney General Edward Buckingham and his wife, Pamela, a former instructor at the Northern Marianas College, stepped on an airplane set for Narita, Japan in the early morning hours today. The AG and his wife were escorted by a team of CNMI police officers and CNMI Department of Public Safety Deputy Commissioner Ambrosio Ogumoro in what appeared to be an attempt to protect the criminal AG from being served the summons demanding that he appear in court August 6th to respond to 5 criminal charges. It is doubtful that the cowardly criminal will appear.
According to witness Glen Hunter, at least three police officers pushed KSPN reporter Tina Sablan as she attempted to interview the Attorney General and videotape his exit from Saipan. Mr. Hunter said that he witnessed "one of the most disturbing, disgusting and outright corrupt acts that this administration has done yet."
Mr. Hunter said that at the airport the AG and his wife stepped from a "convoy of four marked police cars and an unmarked vehicle to be spirited through the entrance to the airport gates."
The witness said that the alleged fugitive and his wife had two uniformed police officers on either side of them. He stated, "I then witnessed the Deputy Commissioner, Ambrosio Ogumoro, and a uniformed police officer return to the vehicles and physically hand carry three of the Buckingham's luggage through to the airport gates."
Does he mean that the luggage did not go through security clearance at the airport? Is this a violation of required DHS airport security clearance procedures? The federal authorities must investigate this.
Mr. Hunter reported seeing eight uniformed on duty police officers and Deputy Commissioner acting as "a shield" to the pair. If the law-breaking Attorney General fails to appear in court tomorrow as summoned, all of these accomplices who were actively participating in his escape should be charged with aiding and abetting a fugitive.
The witness stated that while police were protecting and escorting the Buckinghams to the gate, KSPN newscaster Tina Sablan was "assaulted and restrained" by police officers in a public area.
"Two, sometimes three officers were manhandling Tina while I protested and asked them to stop and questioned what grounds they had to do such a thing. At one point I told them to arrest her if they were going to or let her be," stated Mr. Hunter on a social media website.
He also reported that the Attorney General had been "holed up in his hotel room for the entire day yesterday avoiding receiving the summons while the authorities waited outside to deliver it to him personally." He said, "His wife denied him being there."
(Interesting, since the media had previously reported that when the Attorney General made his resignation announcement, he stated he would be "joining his wife in San Francisco" implying that she was already there.)
It appears that the interviews and his resignation were timed and staged because the AG knew he was about to be charged. I reviewed the recent KSPN interviews with Buckingham. It certainly appears that he is soliciting public sympathy. The same can be said of his recent interview with the Saipan Tribune where he not only made excuses and lied about breaking the law, but stated that the Office of the Public Auditor did not have the authority to charge anyone. Coincidence? I think not!
"All that protection did not stop a few good people (who I cannot name) from pushing aside all the pressure and ensuring that that scumbag did not depart without being SERVED his notice to show up in court or face further charges."Yet, the highest law official in the CNMI boarded the plane with his wife knowing that he was formally served and was due in court in less than two days. The corrupt AG knew that they were trying to serve him and thought he could escape with the help of his government-paid gestapo force.
Mr. Hunter said, "At 3:30am he was escorted to airport amid heavy on-duty police protection. It appeared they were helping him avoid being issued the penal summons and aiding in his escape from the CNMI and escape from having to answer for his
Hunter echoed the sentiments of most law abiding citizens saying, "I am so appalled and disgusted.
There are others who have spoken up to address this scandal. Senate President Paul Manglona stated the obvious in a Saipan Tribune interview:
Manglona said Buckingham is the CNMI attorney general, and he should know better than not to appear in court when there is an order for him to do so."
He said the use of DPS and public resources to escort the AG should be investigated, along with possible “cover up” and “obstruction of justice.”
“Having an AG going on vacation to be escorted by police is very alarming. This is out of the ordinary. Was DPS trying to hinder the serving of the summons to the AG, was DPS trying to obstruct justice? This needs to be investigated,” Manglona said.
Manglona added, “If he's been served the summons and he still went on, and if DPS tried to shield him from being served that summons, this smells like cover up for something.”Senator Frank Cruz echoes Manglona's sentiments. There have been no comments made by Governor Fitial, who many suspect authorized the escort service and escape.
The Information outlining the charges against Buckingham was prepared and submitted to the court by Office of the Public Auditor Legal Counsel and Assistant Attorney General George L. Hasselback.
Some of the charges cited in the brief are the same ones that I brought to the attention of the Office of the U.S. Special Counsel when I filed a Hatch Act complaint against the Attorney General for using his office, time and equipment to engage in campaign activities.
The Office of the Special Counsel attorney stated in an October 28, 2011 letter to me that Attorney General did, indeed violate the Hatch Act. Attorney Mariana Liverpool wrote:
Based on the foregoing, the evidence suggests that Mr. Buckingham violated the Hatch Act by using the authority of his office to support a partisan political candidate. However, we are closing this matter without further action. We have advised Mr. Buckingham that should he again engage in Hatch Act prohibited activity while employed in a Hatch Act covered position, we would consider such activity to be a knowing and willful violation of the law that could result in his removal from his employment.It is extremely disappointing that the federal government failed to prosecute, and instead gave this law-breaking Attorney General a second chance. AAG Hasselback is doing what an ethical and courageous AAG should do - ensure that the laws are followed and those who break them are charged with crimes.
While this most recent incident in a long string of CNMI political scandals where high level officials broke the law shines a spotlight on what a corrupt and unethical government rules the CNMI, it also highlights that there are some amazing heros in the CNMI. Heroes like Tina Sablan, Glen Hunter, George Hasselback and those unnamed people who served the Attorney General with the summons.
Read the letter from the Special Counsel and the Information that outlines the five charges against Attorney General Buckingham below: