May 27, 2013
On Tuesday he turned himself in at the CNMI Department of Public Safety. He was then taken to the Department of Corrections before he appeared before Superior Court Associate Judge David Wiseman.
For over eight months the co-conspirator of ex-governor Benigno Fitial was a fugitive from justice. He left the CNMI on August 4th after an orchestrated drama at the Saipan International Airport where four DPS and CPA officers attempted to shield him from being served a court summons. Even after two FBI agents successfully served Buckingham, he chose to board a plane to Japan rather than appear in court as ordered.
In September 2012 after Buckingham failed to appear for a hearing, Associate Judge Wiseman declared that he was a fugitive from justice.
Buckingham entered a not guilty please and is scheduled to return to court on July 2, 2013 for a status conference. He was ordered to surrender his passport and not to leave Saipan. Attorney Brien Sers Nicolas served as his counsel.
George Hasselback OPA legal counsel and special prosecutor for the case was not expecting Buckingham's return. Hasselback stated that Buckingham may have violated Colorado's condition of bail by showing up in Saipan. One condition of his release in Colorado was that he could not leave the state without the court's permission. He has a hearing in Colorado on June 10, 2013.
It was reported that Buckingham appeared before the judge in street clothes rather than the typical orange jump suit that most criminals are required to wear to court. Will the former AG receive other "special" treatment?
Perhaps his recent arrest and a night in jail in his hometown in a Denver, Colorado suburb made the attorney realize he could not hide. How much have his juvenile antics cost the CNMI and Colorado authorities?
Hopefully, the corrupt attorney will face some consequences rather than the typical CNMI slap on the wrist. In any other location it is likely that at the very least, Buckingham would have been disbarred after he violated the Hatch Act and approved some backdoor deals, but the CNMI Bar Association appears to be another political, game playing entity, like so many in the CNMI. He is a disgrace to the legal profession.
Now, the question is, will ex-governor Fitial also return to face charges?