Chief Prosecutor's Fishy Trip Stinking Even More

July 18, 2013

It is unfortunate that the CNMI is perhaps more recognized for its sleaze and corruption than for its more positive attributes. The list of CNMI officials that have engaged in unlawful, unethical or corrupt acts is a long one.  It appears that the Attorney General Office's chief prosecutor, Shelli Neal, has added her name to that list.

Earlier this month, Neal, engaged in a federally funded 5-day trip to Pagan on a commercial fishing boat piloted by criminal defendant and notorious lawbreaker, Ambrosio Ogumoro. She was accompanied by businesswoman Rosemond Santos, her husband Gary Sword, and former OAG investigator James Ayuyu. The trip was funded by a federal grant that Santos received for a proposed aquaculture venture under a newly established nonprofit, Guihan Pacifiku.

Ogumoro, the controversial former Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety,  followed some ethically challenged and illegal orders from his old pal, ex-governor Benigno Fitial, who presently has a warrant out for his arrest.

Ogumoro currently faces criminal charges for his part in the "great escape" of former CNMI Attorney General Edward Buckingham. At the time of the Pagan trip, Neal was the lead prosecutor in that case where Ogumoro and several other former DPS officials are accused of conspiring with ex-governor Fitial to help Buckingham avoid being served a penal summons.

The list of crimes Ogumoro was charged with include theft of services; misconduct in office; criminal coercion; conspiracy to commit theft of services; conspiracy to obstruct justice by interference with service of process; conspiracy to obstruct justice by interference with a law enforcement officer or witness; obstructing justice by interference with a law enforcement officer or witness; and obstructing justice by interference with service of process.

At the time of the trip, Neal was also the lead prosecutor in several other independent investigations of Ogumoro that are currently being conducted by the DPS and the OAG. She has reportedly been replaced of her duties in prosecuting and investigating Ogumoro.

A commenter on this blog stated that Ogumoro is not a licensed captain authorized to take passengers for hire, nor is the boat certified for charter. It was suggested that the U.S. Coast Guard should also investigate this matter.

Instead of returning to Saipan from Pagan on Ogumoro's boat, Neal and Santos took a federally funded helicopter ride that Santos publicly described as "a gift" for the trip back. According to the CNMI ethics law, P.L. 11-8, no CNMI official can accept a gift that is valued over $50. The estimated cost of the helicopter ride is over $8,000, which would make the acceptance of the ride, a clear violation of the ethics law.

KSPN News reported that  Marine Corps Activity Guam Public Affairs Officer, Major Neal Fisher,  stated in a reply to KSPN inquiries that the helicopter ride provided for Chief Prosecutor Shelli Neal and former chief prosecutor, now businesswoman Rosemond Santos last weekend, "was not specifically authorized nor specifically paid for by the military." Fisher said that that the ride back by the two women was taken "without our knowledge and we were not involved." He explained that military contractor Carnotech hired Americopters to transport a team of archaeologists and supplies to Pagan to conduct resource surveys and not to transport anyone else, according to the reply that KSPN News received from Fisher.

Also, responding to KSPN inquiries about the controversial helicopter trip was Rufus Crowe, the operations director for Americopters. He stated that he has no relationship with Guihan Pacifiku. However, according to KSPN, in a previous interview Santos revealed that Guihan Pacifiku was interested in "establishing a relationship with Americopters", which raises further ethical questions.

Crowe's reposnse to KSPN also conflicted with the explanation that the trip was a "gift".   In a previous interview Santos said that the helicopter trip was a gift that was offered by the pilot of Americopters. However, Crowe explained that Santos and Neal requested the ride back to Saipan.

If Santos and Neal actually asked for the helicopter ride rather than being offered a ride that raises the additional questions.  Did the trip participants get word of the KSPN broadcast that exposed the chief prosecutor's unethical involvement with the criminal defendant, Ambrosio Ogumoro? Did she want to avoid further questions by not making the return on the boat with the criminal defendant that she was charged with prosecuting and investigating?

Regardless of whether the pricey helicopter ride was a request, a favor or an offer, the acceptance was an ethical violation.

Apparently, not happy with KSPN's questions, Americopters' Rufus Crowe replied to KSPN's legitimate inquiry with this unprofessional and snarky remark:
"Why you are trying to turn a simple favor into something nefarious really shows that you must be scouring the bottom of the barrel for news these days . . . pretty damn pathetic."
What is "damn pathetic" is that a company that has federal and local contracts would respond to a reasonable inquiry in such a rude and arrogant manner. There are ethics laws. A particular ethic law was violated and the company, like it or not, is involved in that violation. Crowe may want to practice responding in a professional and non-defensive manner for when he is called upon in the near future by an investigator or prosecutor concerning this matter.

Additionally, it is odd that a pilot would offer a helicopter ride to two unauthorized passengers. What kind of liability would the company or Carnotech have faced if there had been an accident or crash while they were being transported? Did they sign any liability papers or waive any rights before boarding?

Agencies that awarded any federal grant money to Guihan Pacifiku and to Ambrosio Ogumoro should also investigate this trip and the legitimacy of the nonprofits that they are funding.

General Standards for Chief Prosecutor
The American Bar Association describes the general standards for a chief prosecutor, which are meant to be used as a guide to professional conduct and performance. The standards include the function of the prosecutor:
Standard 3- 1.2 The Function of the Prosecutor 
(a) The office of prosecutor is charged with responsibility for prosecutions in its jurisdiction. 
(b) The prosecutor is an administrator of justice, an advocate, and an officer of the court; the prosecutor must exercise sound discretion in the performance of his or her functions. 
(c) The duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice, not merely to convict. 
(d) It is an important function of the prosecutor to seek to reform and improve the administration of criminal justice. When inadequacies or injustices in the substantive or procedural law come to the prosecutor's attention, he or she should stimulate efforts for remedial action. 
(e) It is the duty of the prosecutor to know and be guided by the standards of professional conduct as defined by applicable professional traditions, ethical codes, and law in the prosecutor's jurisdiction. The prosecutor should make use of the guidance afforded by an advisory council of the kind described in standard 4-1.5.
The American Bar Association describes a prosector's responsibility to avoid conflicts of interests. The following relate to this case:
Standard 3-1.3 Conflicts of Interest 
(a) A prosecutor should avoid a conflict of interest with respect to his or her official duties. 
(f) A prosecutor should not permit his or her professional judgment or obligations to be affected by his or her own political, financial, business, property, or personal interests. 
Other standards list by the ABA were not adhered to in this situation. Chief prosecutors are expected to have  an understanding of the law and are expected to follow the law. When ethical questions are raised a chief prosecutor has an obligation to respond. Neal refuses to answer questions about the federally funded trip.

Like Fitial, Ogumoro, Buckingham, and other CNMI officials who engaged in corruption, or illegal or unethical acts, Neal appears to believe that avoidance will make the problem go away. It will not.
She is another CNMI public official who has demonstrated that she is not qualified for the position that she holds; another CNMI official who thumbs her nose at the law that she is charged with upholding.

Unprofessional Responses
KSPN, the media outlet that broke the scandal and has followed up on it attempted to get more answers to the many unanswered questions.

When questioned about the trip, how much she paid and her relationship with Guihan Pacifiku, Neal arrogantly refuses to answer. She told KSPN News reporter Tina Sablan:
"You ran your story without getting a statement from me. You've already run your story. Had you wanted the truth, you would have gotten a statement from me before you ran the story. You ran the story without getting my side. You didn't get all the facts. It was slanted. It was accusatory and you didn't have all the facts and now I'm not gonna...that's all I'm going to say." "I would have been happy to talk to you if you had talked to me before you ran that story. Now you want me to defend myself and I am not going to do that." 
 When asked about he role on the trip, she laughed, "I'm not going to talk about it now."

Neal's excuse in refusing to respond to legitimate questions is ridiculous. If she believed that there was no ethical violation, then she would immediately disclose the "facts" and the "truth". Instead she attempted to impose a self-serving imaginary timeline of when truth can and cannot be revealed. She accused KSPN of not meeting her truth telling timeline, and therefore is not deserving of now hearing the facts and truth!

This attorney violated ethics laws, yet she attempts to hold a media outlet responsible for her breaches. Kill the messenger is a pitiful tactic, especially when it comes from an attorney. Neal's response demonstrates that she is thumbing her nose at the law rather than upholding it. Neal  has demonstrated that she is not mature enough, responsible enough, or ethical enough to respond properly, never mind hold the position of chief prosecutor.

KSPN reported off camera that Neal said she commonly interacts with criminal defendants in her daily life and admitted that she and other members of the OAG have had drinks at Ogumoro's bar in the past. She also said, "Ogumoro is not a leper."

He may not be a "leper" but as chief prosecutor, she should not be interacting with him or any person who is under investigation or is a criminal defendant! Does she not understand her position that is funded by the people that she is charged to serve?  Does she not feel an obligation to answer to the public for her transgressions and irresponsible acts?

Furthermore, it is disturbing that members of the OAG would frequent a bar operated by this sleazy man, especially considering that he was under investigation by both the OAG and DPS. The $60,000 federal grant awarded to Ogumoro is one of the issues that is under investigation. Neal and members of the OAG  could not go to another bar with a less controversial owner? Her statements both on and off camera further reveal that she is not qualified for this position and must be removed.

KSPN reporter Tina Sablan also questioned Ogumoro's attorney, Doug Cushnie, who said he had nothing to say at the time.

Ambrosio Ogumoro refused to talk to the reporter and behaved like an angry thug on camera. He finally responded off camera by shouting, "shut up!"

KSPN is a responsible news outlet. It has an obligation to report that the OAG's chief prosecutor took a 5-day trip to Pagan with the rogue criminal defendant that she is charged with prosecuting. As a legitimate news agency, it does not, and should not, follow anyone's self-serving timeline.

KSPN News did its job and it did it well. The same cannot be said for the defensive chief prosecutor who owes it to the public to respond immediately, truthfully and completely to questions about her unethical acts. She should be held accountable for her missteps. She is a public servant and one who should resign immediately.

See also these previous posts:
Something's Fishy July, 7, 2013
CNMI AG Defends Questionable Fishing Trip, July 8, 2013
Chief Prosecutor's Fishy Trip Linked to Federal Grant, July 10, 2013


Anonymous said...

Standard 3-1.3 Conflicts of Interest
(a) A prosecutor should avoid a conflict of interest with respect to his or her official duties.
(f) A prosecutor should not permit his or her professional judgment or obligations to be affected by his or her own political, financial, business, property, or personal interests.

It is absolutely clear that the vessel operator - passenger relationship is not one that would ordinarily cause a conflict of interest.

There is most definitely no requirement to avoid any and all contact with a defendant or suspect, nor associated businesses. That is not the law. Nor is there any requirement to respond to officious intermeddlers such as KSPN. Being a member of the Fourth Estate gives no license to demand evidence in pursuit of some personal vendetta.

Why are people joining this lynch mob, and so blatantly violating the due process rights of a dedicated public servant, Ms. Neal? Is it any wonder so much crime occurs in the CNMI, when those who undertake to fight it must waste so much time on such foolish distractions and obstacles?

Likewise, the helicopter pilot is fully justified in his reaction. He has no obligation whatsoever to respond to the vindictive inuendo of the press.

The valuation of a free helicopter is not the fair market value or cost to hire it de novo. The valuation is the marginal cost. The helicopter was already up there. It was going back empty whether or not Ms. Neal and Ms. Santos were there. There was zero or de minimis additional cost to pick them up. Mr. Crowe is an honorable man, who formerly lived on Saipan in the 1990s, who is fully aware of his obligations to his employer, Americopter.

Really, observers are trying to tell him whom he can and cannot pick up, what legal waivers of liability he should fill out, and whatnot? Who do they think they are? Outrageous!! Perhaps they will be urging the issuance of IRS Form 1099 every time someone in Orlando gives a free automobile ride to a child's friend or hitch-hiker.

This is the same sort of meddlesome mindset of the “Save Sugar Dock” era that has done untold damage to the CNMI economy.

Part and parcel of this modus operandi is the repeated barbaric threatening of people's employment and livelihood, knowing full well the difficulty of finding new ones in the CNMI. It is being done directly in the case of Ms. Neal, and impliedly in the case of Mr. Crowe.

When faced with such devasting personal, professional, and economic consequences, why on earth would ANYONE want to speak up in the face of this barbaric witch-hunt or answer any questions outside a court of law?

Is it only guest workers who are not to be treated as primarily a labor unit or disposable commodity, but degreed professionals from the mainland are fair game? The jumping to conclusions, the attacks and besmirching of reputations, are the height of hypocrisy.

This mistreatment and abuse is really too much.

Anonymous said...

11:56 What's "too much" are the excuses. This is no witch hunt. The woman has made inappropriate decisions and acted in a manner that could have a devastating impact on a serious case that she was charged to prosecute. You're just another enabler. It's people like you who perpetuate corruption. It's common sense that a prosecutor doesn't associate with the defendant that she's responsible for prosecuting. A vessel operator of that size boat is rubbing elbows with the passenger. Neal's a fool to have made the remarks she made. We deserve better.

Anonymous said...

12:40, rather than perpetuating corruption I dare say I've prosecuted more corruption cases than you have.

Is a defendant going to file a motion to dismiss because the prosecutor was on a boat with him? Can you cite some authority for that absurd legal proposition? Louder please? Here's a search tool.

What is important in a prosecutor, in addition to technical professional lawyerly skills, are ethics and integrity. With ethics and integrity, even occasional lapses in judgment or somewhat weak research and advocacy skills can be overcome and supplemented by colleagues, law clerks, and even judges.

It is when ethics and integrity are lacking, as has been alleged against the occasional CNMI judicial nominee, that corruption thrives.

Jim Benedetto, J.P. San Nicolas, and George Hasselback have ethics and integrity. So does Shelli Neal.

Anonymous said...

You must be Shelli Neal or her attorney friend. Such a pathetic twist to try to defend the indefensible is sickening. Neal's a public servant who draws her salary from public coffers. She should either speak up to answer the pertinent and important questions or she should be shown the door. The only “mistreatment and abuse” is of the public and the media.

Anonymous said...

Before I wondered if Neal was innocently getting on the boat without knowing whose it was, but her off camera comments that defend Ogumoro suggest she’s another one that got put in a job she doesn’t have the smarts or experience to do. She’s way out of her league and it’s uncomfortable to watch. As for San Nicolas, he should start acting like an attorney general. If Neal won’t answer the questions, then he should. Let’s just be grateful that KSPN can’t be intimidated by the likes of 11:56 and the other Neal cheerleaders, who represent a teeny minority.

captain said...

Wendy, keep up the your interest in this Shelli involvement in this trip.
You have hit on some interesting areas such as the Helicopter.
I pointed out the boat areas. Will get back later.
This 11:56 am seems to be from the AG office.
But the AG Joey seem to be following in Bucky's footsteps and directed by Inos.

I have stated before Joey is not qualified in the rules of law. He is too young and operating on "local style".(He is a close friend)
Lets him or other show a former legal precedence that could justify Shelli's acts.

Besides being a past disabled military Captain, I have been a licensed Master (Captain) for over 38 years and also a licensed ATP pilot for more than that time.
In the past, I have run many "charters" paid for by the Feds (air and sea) and this whole thing is not "kosher". I was always restricted to "authorized personnel only" with the appropriate validation.

Feds (in the past)where very "critical" on liability. Even when I ran contracts with NOAA, and DOD.

It is not much different than in the real world with taking outsiders in company vehicles or the heavy trucks on a run without company permission.
There is a manifest with "persons and cargo on board"

It is all about "liability, liability".

I think that if this whole fiasco is actually paid for by the Feds. including the Helicopter that was for the "seismologists" setting up the equipment on Pagan there may be underlying Fed. problems and liabilities in the case of an accident etc.

These major players are all jokes anyway.
Mindset that in the CNMI anything goes, if nobody knows.
Without Tina and Glen many thing would have gotten by all.

I am also familiar with the copter pilot and won't comment at this time about him, I have had my run i's with him in the past over stupid things.

Wendy Doromal said...

Hi Captain:

I agree 11:56 and possibly 1:09 are from the AG, or may even be one of the attorneys involved. The arguments are weak and silly. It's the same old "kill the messenger" story that defensive people play if they are too cowardly to accept accountability.

I am contacting the federal agencies about the grants to provide information and request guidelines. It appears that a lot of federal money is dumped in the CNMI without proper investigation and accountability.

The spokesperson from the helicopter was also immature and defensive in his snarky responses. All the defensiveness and stubbornness in refusing to just answer simple questions makes me believe that the players know that they were in the wrong but refuse to take responsibility. Why wouldn't Neal just respectfully answer?

Anonymous said...

I know Shelli Neal and she is a kind and selfless person. Poor judgement in this situation? Maybe. Corrupt and criminal? Hell no! She has done more for the CNMI in her few years here than most do in their lives. Active in the community and a champion of domestic and sexual abuse prevention. What have you and your irrelevant blog done lately? I'll answer for you... Nothing! Zip, zilch, Nada! Hide behind your keyboard thousands of miles away and keep passing judgement on others so we can keep laughing.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 11:56 So you really think prosecutors should be in close and isolated quarters with their criminal defendants? What are you, mafia? You don’t like the first amendment? You don’t think Tina should do her job and ask what everyone on this rock is asking? We deserve answers. “Officious intermeddlers? You toss around some lawerly vocabulary and think that will erase the facts? Don’t think so! The press has a duty to expose this crap. The more Tina digs, the more slime oozes out. Great work KSPN and Tina! Keep it up Unheard No More! Thanks also to Glen, Ed, the advocates and others who are march to the anti-corruption tune!

realityman said...

To 11:56 Vessel operator? He wasn't steering a Carnival cruise ship! It was like Ambrosio and Shelli were in a sardine can together! JEEEEZE get real!

Wendy Doromal said...

12:10 I did not say Neal was "criminal" I said it appears that she violated CNMI ethics law. I am not the only person that shares that view.

I do not hide behind a keyboard. I sign my name in every post, comment, letter and document that I write. Unlike you! Rather ludicrous to accuse me of hiding behind a keyboard when you are too cowardly to sign you name, don't you think?

Please feel free to sign your name to your comments and also send me a list of Neal's "great accomplishments" with your name and I will post it!

Gosh, why are you reading this"irrelevant" blog that has been quoted by federal officials, policymakers, nonprofits and local, national and international media if you don't like it?

Anonymous said...

1:09 If you're such a great attorney you would be able to determine facts. I'm not a prosecutor and didn't claim to be one. Who said the case would be dismissed? Where did you read that, great attorney? Go search yourself, hotshot lawyer. Tell us again why it's a good idea for a chief prosecutor to take a multi-day boat trip with her criminal defendant who's not even licensed to take passengers and is under investigation for the federal grant connected to the boat? I could almost buy your crap that Shelli Neal has ethics and integrity if she didn't reveal her true colors in the latest KSPN interview. What an unprofessional tirade that was! The cherry on the top was her defense of the criminal defendant. The "He isn't a leper" line was classic. Laughed out loud. Admitting she went to AO's True North and then saying that other attorneys from the AGO's went to his bar too was revealing too. She's a child. She got caught with her hand in the cookie jar and whines to her mommy, "They did it too." Is that the integrity you're talking about?

Anonymous said...

Lawyers like Shelli really only have a few choices after law school: Document processing or working for the CNMI government. Times are tough for law school grads with a whopping 70% unemployment and record debt in the tune of over 100k. So they can't find a decent paying job anywhere. This is what the CNMI gets, a young immature lawyer who is here to play.

Anonymous said...

I have never heard of prosecutors hanging out with their criminal defendants, patronizing their business or publicly defending them. Even if Neal did not break any laws, she has no common sense. She sounded like a genuine Fitialite in the KSPN interview, deflecting responsibility and blaming others, including the media.

Anonymous said...

Amateur hour on Saipan; everyone has his own “expert” legal opinion on “appearance of impropriety”. Do you think you could do better than the OAG lawyers? Go to law school. A simple motion in limine will keep all this folderol out of any criminal prosecution.

There is nothing wrong with patronizing any legal business -- though a famous CNMI “activist” is trying to push business to his own Shack, with some influential Fitialite-style assistance from the reporter with whom he is in a relationship. How is that for “violating journalism ethics”? Can't stand the competition from True North?

My advice to the OAG Criminal Division when the press come calling? Ask them to “put it in writing.”

The standard response to most written queries should be, “We do not discuss pending legal issues, investigations, or cases.”

Do your talking in court or through legal pleadings.

Given the very low salaries paid to CNMI government lawyers and the abuse so many of us subject them to, we are very fortunate indeed that so many hard-working and dedicated individuals are willing to come out here for a few years (or more) to make this Commonwealth a better place.

Given the pay scale, one would not expect super-experienced prosecutors to transfer to the CNMI. It can be very hard for them to get jobs back on the mainland as it is.

Let the bloggers, “reporters,” and character assassins have their fun.

God doesn't force anyone to appreciate His work; how could a mere human?

Anonymous said...

11:56 said, "It is absolutely clear that the vessel operator - passenger relationship is not one that would ordinarily cause a conflict of interest. " Well that was not an "ordinary" circumstance. This particular boat is small and there were tight quarters where it would have been impossible for the two not to interact. A chief prosecutor should have known such a trip was inappropriate. If the trip was free it could also be construed as a bribe of sorts. Since it was federally funded one has to ask what was her role on the trip? Actually, every question KSPN asked was valid.

It was said previously that Neal refused to prosecute Ogumoro on other charges. Neal should have known that such a trip would raise questions and if she had any common sense, she would not have gone. One could say it was an innocent trip, but her vehement protests to respond to basic questions say otherwise.

Anonymous said...

11:40 (Also likely the same person as 11:56 and 1:09)

We understand that as a low paid attorney from the OAG you are upset, but if you have such strong opinions why not identify yourself? The people you attack identify themselves.

"Go to law school" you say? Another arrogant, "I'm a hotshot lawyer, what are you?" statement from someone with no defense. So far the defenders of the indefensible have attacked everyone who disagrees with them with silly, "I know more than you", "I attended law school" "I am smarter than you" arguments. Who is laughing at whom?

No one is asking questions "For fun." Neal is a public servant and we pay her salary! She answers to us. Those who have the integrity and courage to expose the truth and demand answers don't think this is a joke!

You're way off base to suggest that Glen and Tina have a vendetta of sorts, are worried about competing for business with a man who most people shun, or have some other dark motive. But trying to confuse issues and deflect blame is what people with no defense who refuse to take responsibility for their own actions do best. Those, like you, with no legitimate arguments and no defense attack others. I guess for the unsophisticated and childish, it makes sense. We're not buying it!

Anonymous said...

6:40 how are they any more off base than some of the comments made here?? Tina made her report with only her side of the "story" then went to Ms. Neal to get her side after a narrative had been written. Wrong way to report news but the right way to create news. What the person who wrote the comment in 11:40 is no different that what Tina and most of the writers on this blog comments have done. You are now saying that this person is wrong for saying something that may or may not be true but feel free to make your own unsubstantiated allegations against those you don't like......

Pot meet Kettle........

Wendy Doromal said...

Anonymous 6:40 and others attacking the messenger, let me try to see if I can make sense of the debate:

Tina is a reporter. She accurately reported the news. She could not interview Neal when she was on a trip to Pagan. However, she contacted the Office of the Attorney General and interviewed the AG. She attempted many times to interview Neal upon her return and reported all of the limited information Neal provided. Tina Sablan has done her job and has done nothing wrong.

The person who anonymously commented as 11:40 is attacking the messenger/s and not addressing the issue, which at this point is Neal's refusal to answer very basic questions that the press is justified in asking and the public has a right to know.

Anonymous said...

Neal on a fishing trip should not be priority news in the CNMI. Tina reporting the news and her boyfriend Glen in tow hammering Neal on blogs using a dozen different aliases is starting to become embarrassing.

Reporting on real issues like the retirement fund, immigration and CUC should be priority. This tabloid story will start losing steam and hopefully the new owners of the station see what's really happeneing. Start reporting on people who want want to withdraw their retirement money. Name names...oh wait, that's not gonna happen.

Wendy Doromal said...

10:44 I understand what you and the other deflectors are attempting to do. Scream over and over, "Move on people, nothing to see" and pretend that the real violators are the press and advocates. You publicly (but anonymously) accuse innocent people such as reporters and advocates to shift the focus from Neal, the person who is accountable to the people, but refuses to answer basic questions. This is the same immature and cowardly tactic supporters of the violators used in massage-gate, election-gate, the great escape of Buckingham and other unethical and damaging incidents in the CNMI. Who do you honestly think that you are fooling? Do you think people who stand up for the truth at their own risk will back off because they are intimidated by senseless and libelous arguments about their behavior from unnamed sources?

What is embarrassing is the fact that the OAG has not released a statement nor has he held Neal accountable for her unwise acts. Neal not only refuses to answer questions, but attacks those who rightfully ask her to. She and her supporters/friends, who are perhaps among those involved, are attacking the messengers -people who have a right to call for answers from government employees like Neal whose paychecks are funded by the people and perhaps also by federal grants.

You are an anonymous commenter calling for others to "name, names" and you think people will take your comments seriously? All of the supporters of Neal on this site and the MV attacked the messengers, have hidden behind the anonymous label. Glen,Tina, other advocates and people calling for answers have the integrity and courage to stand up for the truth publicly. Who is to be respected here?

Labeling the incidents a "tabloid story" does not make it one. Instead of spending so much time attacking, why not talk to your friend and tell her to do the right thing -answer to the people.

The comments just on this post have convinced me to dig deeper and to contact the federal authorities, including those who oversee CNMI grants. Something is beyond fishy!

Anonymous said...

Wendy, stay on this. The comments here that attack people who want answers are from the same person. I would guess one of boat riders or an attorney from the OAG. The fact that the AG and Neal won’t answer simple questions like who paid for her share of the trip convince me there’s much more to this story too. Is Joey really going to risk his career to save Neal’s? The latest NMI soap opera spins on.

Anonymous said...

10:44 Back off from that Neal Kool Aid, sweetie, ‘coz it looks like you’ve gotten drunk! “Neal on a fishing trip should not be priority news in the CNMI,” say you. Tell me where in the US could a chief prosecutor take a boat trip paid for by the feds with her criminal defendant whose not licensed to take passengers, jump on a helicopter paid for by the feds, refuse to explain her actions and not be in the headlines? Nowhere, that’s where! The only difference is in the NMI she keeps her job!

Anonymous said...

Haven’t any of these people learned from the mistakes of their predecessors? Maybe there should be reminders like posters of CNMI officials in handcuffs or orange jumpsuits hung in the government offices. Posters of Edward Buckingham in handcuffs hung in the AG’s office, a poster of Ambrosio Ogumoro and Jermaine Nekaifes in handcuffs hung at DPS, a poster of ex-lt. governor Villagomez and ex-governor Benigno Fitial hung in the governor’s office, a poster of Rick Atalig and Juan Ayuyu in jumpsuits hung in the Senate, a poster of Raymond Palacios in handcuffs hung in the House, a poster of Jordon Kosam and Juan T. Rebuenog in handcuffs hung at the CPA. . .

Wendy Doromal said...

Anonymous 7:39

I am going to pursue the facts and inform all the federal agencies connected.

"The truth doesn't change, just because people don't want to hear it."

Anonymous said...

It sounds like a former AG commenting here, a staunch Fitialite and predecessor of Edward T. Buckingham. This former AG preaches scripture and the word of the Lord, yet served an evil leader and defended the evil, corrupt acts perpetrated by his master.

It is evident that Governor Eloy Inos is just an extension of the Fitial Administration and Attorney General San Nicolas is following Buckingham's lead. Shameful and despicable how these attorneys deflect and place blame on a news reporter who is trying to do her job. Time to clean this government and cut off ties with the former AG who is nothing more than a devil in disguise. One day God will judge this great sinner for his lack of character and lies and deception and maybe then he will realize that he was on the wrong side all this time.

captain said...

It is interesting that Ogumoro and Neil are showing almost identical bad action, style and traits in dealing with this whole thing.

It is also comical that some of the remarks attempting to justify this situation identical from the past encounters involving the cops and the rest of the Fitialites illegal and unethical actions dating back from the Lt Gov. at the time..

It is also interesting, as has been pointed out, the lack of any comments (answers)after the first initial denials, from Inos and the AG as was the "style" from the past Admin.
As one commenter noted, the Inos Admin is not much different and only an extension of the Fitial Admin.

This was so obvious when from the beginning Inos kept many Fitialites in their previous Admin position beginning with Angel.

Another interesting thing is that although Neil graduated from law school in the late 90's the never passed her bar (in Texas) until 2005. It was hinted that she worked as a law clerk until then.

It is also interesting that at her request nothing of her background experience is posted under her profile with the CNMI Bar and also anther online profile giving her back ground education.

And as far as Joey, just how many years experience does he have? Less than the Shelli? Or about the same? Both are low time lawyers with limited experience. (don't get me wrong I like Joey and his wife personally but learned early do not completely trust him.)

With the Fitial nomination of Joey for AG that was promulgated by Jude and Inos is another example akin to this Admin's Quichocho's nomination based on name and territory instead of competence.

Seems Shelli is here for a change of surroundings (not for the money)and has fallen in with the wrong players.
It also may seem that possibly she may have a closer personal tie with Ogumoro than is publicly known due to her actions.(this is purely speculation on my part)

It is also interesting that none of the newspapers are keeping track of this.
It will indeed be interesting to see how this thing plays out especially with certain elements attempting to divert attention away from the root as it the usual case is the CNMI when Govt. and high profile players get caught in questionable activities.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm!!! I hope i'm wrong but I think THIS IS THE RIGHT TIME FOR concern FEDERAL Office or Agency to COME into this incident specially if this involve TAX PAYERS MONEY

Angelo Villagomez said...

This thread reminds me of all the people that stood up to support Fitial before he resigned and was run off island, likely never to return.

Anonymous said...

Must be a real heady experience to be an unknown attorney (little fish, big pond) and then get a position of chief prosecutor (big fish, little pond). Perhaps that explains the arrogance. If she follows the course she's charted, she'll be outta here in a year with no job and a ruined reputation. She still has a chance to redeem herself. Ditto San Nicolas.

Used to be that things like this could be hidden in the NMI. Now with internet and more ethical community members demanding high standards from gvt. employees this isn't the case. Neal would serve herself and the people by owning up to her unethical actions.

Wendy Doromal said...

Hi Angelo

Yes, but the comments defending Neal and the whole incident are from the same Saipan Verizon ISP number. At least the 5 that I had time to look up. Looks like it's one person with a personal interest in trying to stop the discussion in an attempt to stop investigations.

Anonymous said...

captain said...

Another interesting thing is that although Neal graduated from law school in the late 90's she never passed her bar (in Texas) until 2005. It was hinted that she worked as a law clerk until then.

It is also interesting that at her request nothing of her background experience is posted under her profile with the CNMI Bar and also another online profile giving her back ground education.

It looks like you need to brush up on your internet search skills a bit, captain. You overlooked Tennessee.

Shelli Latrice Neal earned her B.A. in Spanish Language and Literature from Vanderbilt University in 1992 and then her J.D. from the University of Texas in 1995. UT is a top-20 law school. This puts her in the same league as another OAG Criminal Division Chief predecessor, the well-respected Jeffery Lamont Warfield, Sr., who earned his B.A. from Stanford University and his J.D. from the Tulane University.

Shelli was an Assistant District Attorney General for the State of Tennessee in Nashville for eight years until 2003, during which she prosecuted major felonies including murders, rapes, armed robberies, drug trafficking, burglaries, white collar crimes and specialized in the area of domestic violence.

For the next two years Shelli worked for the City of Nashville, primarily representing the Metro Nashville Police Department and Davidson County Sheriff's Office. Between 2005 and 2007 she was a Lead Attorney Advisor for the U.S. Small Business Administration dealing with the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma.

Then, yes, for a year-and-a-half she did work as an independent law practice professional at the premises of the law firm of Jones Day on a massive SEC investigation performing document analysis and review for electronic discovery and litigation preparation for a major Fortune 500 company.

Working at the same time at the Tennessee Attorney General's Office in Nashville from around 1998 to at least 2001 was Rebecca Earnestine Miller, now known as Rebecca Miller Warfield. You are aware that Ms. Warfield was a CNMI AAG and also an honest and effective CNMI DPS Commissioner.

The professional accomplishments of Shelli Neal speak for themselves and there is no need for such slander and personal attacks as some have made on these pages.

If any decisions Shelli made involved less than optimal judgment, they will be addressed at the appropriate time before an appropriate forum, which is not here.

This piling on is simply abusive. People who claim to support social change should know it can never be attained through illegitimate and evil methods.

Anonymous said...

"This piling on is simply abusive. People who claim to support social change should know it can never be attained through illegitimate and evil methods."

Free speech, public discussions and exchange of ideas are not evil or illegitimate! If you're such an admirer of Neal tell her to do the right thing and answer the questions. She is a public servant and as such is accountable to the public.

Furthermore, you are participating in the very public forums that you criticize!

Anonymous said...

No, free speech, public discussion and exchange of ideas are certainly not evil or illegitimate. And this is a wonderful forum. Wendy does a great job promoting social change.

What is wrong are the personal attacks on individuals, and demands for public apologies and dismissals from employment.

A teacher in Orlando is a public employee. Does that mean every time she makes a mistake, that is trumpeted world-wide and the teacher held up to ridicule and insult?


(And that is where some participants in this discussion here and elsewhere have crossed the line into illegitimacy.)

Not all personnel matters are public. To the contrary. In most, those involved have a right to privacy. That right is expressly enshrined in the CNMI Constitution.

Likewise, criminal investigations are private. Otherwise, we could never get the bad guys off the streets.

Sometimes, we just have to trust that people -- such as the public auditor or federal agencies -- will do their job. Because they are NOT going to give a blow-by-blow description of every action they undertake.

Nor should they. That is not how representative democracy works. Accountability? Yes.

Pillorying, abusive demands, ridicule, abuse of the gift of communication? No.

Fortunately the two CNMI newspapers generally recognize this distinction, at least on this issue.

Anonymous said...

I guess what's confusing is the extreme defensive mode Neal and her supporters have taken. Really no one said Ms. Neal was a horrible person. The only people saying that are her supporters who claim anyone who demands explanations is attacking her! Where are personal attacks and slander? People stated the facts: As chief prosecutor Neal took an inappropriate trip with her criminal defendant, federal money funded the trip, she refuses to answer her role in the trip, she attacked the press, her supporters attack anyone who wants explanations. Who is being slandered and attacked?

Anonymous said...

9:04 from what you list, seems that Shelli should be the AG instead of Joey.

Anonymous said...

10:28 Freedom of speech should not be regulated. You want to regulate discussions and public opinion. Obviously people are upset by this incident and want answers. Of course the OAG should make a statement. If Neal hadn't been so rude and defensive maybe people would be more sympathetic to her. If she hadn't attacked the press maybe people would have more respect for her. I really don't see slander in the KSPN report, this blog or in any other the stories in either newspaper. (Both covered it.) We appreciate you want this to go away, but trying to deflect the blame won't make that happen.

Anonymous said...

It's my belief also that Neal should resign. Any chief prosecutor that would make the decisions that she made can't be trusted go hold such an important job. As a resident I have a right to call for the resignation of any official who crosses the line. I did for Fitial and I am for Neal. That's my right. That's my opinion. You Neal defenders need to respect that. You can disagree but stop calling us slanderers and making us the bad guys. This is a public matter and the public has a right to express opinions on it!

captain said...

9:04 Well I though that my comments might bring out some background on Shelli, and it did as some of mine and other comments brought out background on many illegal details that Fitial and his Mafia had done in the past by people like you trying to defend the non-defensible.

Now since you have disclosed Shelli background, things that she herself had refused to disclose publicly, it seems that you have invaded her privacy and forever opened her up to more scrutiny as now her background will be floating around the web forever, nice job.
I personally would be very pissed at you if I was in her shoes.

With the info you posted seems that you are also in the AG's office and if so you might have crossed the line by divulging personal info on an employee since it was specifically kept away from the public.

Anyway I, or nobody else ever stated that Shelli was an incompetent attorney, just possibly low time in years and lacking in professional ethics in this case. Made a bad decision and making it worse by her current actions.

She has done a good job in most cases at the AG but seems to have dropped the ball in the past on some people such as Ogamoro and his friends in her refusal to prosecute them for some allegations.
This leaves her open for all kinds of speculations and innuendo's especially after what has recently come to light.

I am very familiar with the Warfields and have dealt with them in the past when they were on Island.
I have a lot of respect for Rebecca especially as she was the prosecutor against me in a criminal case that I personally argued without an attorney, the case was ultimately dismissed.

I also dealt with her when she was the Police Com. on another level.

Rebecca never associated with anyone that she was responsible for being arrested nor she was prosecuting nor did her husband, even when I was being prosecuted she, her husband and I stayed away from one another due to professional ethics and the possibility of any gathering being viewed as questionable.

Except for what was required in regards to discovery, as I was representing myself, we never even made any personal comments in our e-mails. Not even "how are you today" comments.

Now the question could arise as to why Shelli came to the CNMI if she was such a proficient lawyer with all of her background in the Southern States?

As was stated in this forum and elsewhere, it certainly wasn't for the money at the AG office.

This whole thing still comes back to what she did was inappropriate and a bad call and is making it worse by her actions and attitude in regards to any questions concerning the matter along with Ogamoro's actions and the silence by the AG and Gov.
As I stated earlier, thuis is exactly how the Fitial Admin. handled allegations and wrong doings in the past and those actions being defended by people like you that brought out more questions than answers and caused their demise.

Keep posting, it is interesting and also puts out much unknown info.
Have a nice day.

Wendy Doromal said...

Anonymous 10:28
"A teacher in Orlando is a public employee. Does that mean every time she makes a mistake, that is trumpeted world-wide and the teacher held up to ridicule and insult?"

Everyone makes mistakes. However, there are levels and consequences. A mistake in addition or spelling is not the same as a serious and intentional act that goes against professional standards. I would hope that any teacher that violates professional standards would be exposed and held accountable, especially since children are involved.

Neal's actions were not private since she is a chief prosecutor at all times, not just when she clocks into the OAG. She is accountable to the people. Decisions have consequences, especially for public servants.

Anonymous said...

Neal removed as chief prosecutor—sources