Four Charges Reinstated against Ex-Governor Fitial

February 2, 2015

Associate Judge David Wiseman has reinstated four of the corruption charges against Ex-Governor Benigno Fitial.

Wiseman's November  6, 2014 dismissal order ruled that the Office of the Public Auditor has no authority to file the charges against Fitial, who was no longer governor, but was a private citizen when the charges were filed. He stated that the CNMI Attorney General retains prosecutorial authority over such an action when the defendant is not currently in office. OPA filed 13 charges against Fitial.

The Marianas Variety reported:
In his seven-page order, Judge Wiseman said the charges conspiracy to commit theft of services, two counts of misconduct in public office, and theft of services “shall remain pending charges of adjudication,” referring to the “armed escort” extended to Buckingham from his hotel up to the restricted areas in the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport.

Dismissed without prejudice were charges involving former CNMI Department of Commerce Secretary Michael Ada’s contract of services related to the use of ARRA funds, the release of a female federal detainee from the CNMI Department of Corrections so she could give a massage to then-governor at his Gualo Rai residence to relieve what Fitial described as severe back pains on the early morning of Jan. 8, 2010, and the no-bid $190 million power-purchase agreement entered into between Fitial and Delaware-based Saipan Development LLC.