April 26, 2014
"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
The charges against Fitial are: 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 a witness; theft of services; misconduct in public office; obstructing justice by interference with a law enforcement officer or witness; and obstructing justice by interference with service of process related to the conspiracy to block service of a judicial summons to ex-Attorney General Edward Buckingham.
In February 2014, Fitial's co-conspirator, former CNMI Attorney General and convicted felon Edward Buckingham III was found guilty of use of public supplies, time and personnel for campaign activities; use of the name of a government department or agency to campaign and/or express support for a candidate running for public office; misconduct in public office (related to campaign matter); conspiracy to commit theft of services (related to escort issue); misconduct in public office (pertaining to escort issue); conspiracy to commit theft service (related to use government counsels to represent him); and misconduct in public office (use of government counsels).
Superior Court Associate Judge Kenneth Govendo let Buckingham off with an insultingly lenient sentence. The criminal who inflicted so much damage to the people of the CNMI had his 3.5 years of time behind bars suspended, was fined $14,000, placed on unsupervised probation and prohibited from being employed by the CNMI Government for 20 years. Not even community service!
At Buckingham trial's Fitial's nephew, Jermaine Nekaifes testified against the former CNMI Attorney General Edward Buckingham. Charges against Nekaifes were dismissed in exchange for his testimony. He will also be required to testify against Fitial as a condition of the dismissal.
Can we expect the same slap on the wrist for Fitial or will Associate Judge David Wiseman consider the damage that Fitial inflicted on the people of the CNMI and give him the harsh sentence that he deserves?
Fitial is the epitome of the politician who plays dirty and is dirty. For decades Fitial has committed corrupt acts, and yet somehow he was able to avoid prosecution. His corrupt dealings with felon Jack Abramoff when he a House speaker, and his involvement in Willy Tan's corrupt garment factory where he and current Governor Eloy Inos held the top executive positions are just a couple of examples. His disrespect for the legal, long-term foreign workers is legendary and despicable.
Perhaps the fact that Fitial avoided prosecution for so long empowered him to become the arrogant, lying, self-serving man that hurt so many. The criminal acts of corrupt government officials are not victimless crimes. People are paying with tax dollars. The CNMI is paying with its reputation. May justice be served.