June 27, 2015
Disgraced ex-governor Benigno Fitial's prison sentence seemed far too lenient for many.
After all, his unethical scheming, in-your-face acts of corruption, and "flagrant display of abuse of authority" span decades. From stories of promoting prostitution in his now-closed nightclub, Orchids - to back-door deals with Jack Abramoff - to freeing a federal prisoner for a late night massage - to illegal election activities - to penning illegal contracts with pals - to helping his criminal ex-Attorney General Buckingham escape the CNMI to avoid imprisonment, tales of this guy's unethical and criminal activity could fill a book.
His acts of hate are also memorable. Who can forget an angry Fitial shouting, "Go home!" to legal foreign workers as they gathered outside of a Congressional Hearing that was held on Saipan? Or using government time and money to organize anti-immigrant rallies where racist ideals were promoted? Or scheming with Guamanian cronies to get the pathway to citizenship removed from the CNRA?
One year? Far too short, but it certainly sends a message that corrupt politicians may not get away with their crimes. A deterrent? Maybe, if he actually spends time behind bars.
We should not be surprised that Fitial's attorney, Steven Nutting, is asking for an extension to his July, 6, 2015 deadline to report to prison.
We also expect his lifelong pal, Governor Eloy Inos to pardon him. After all, they were the dynamic dual scheming with Willie Tan and Jack Abramoff oh so many years ago. Their schemes cost the CNMI $11 million in lobbying fees and a tarnished reputation.
For a term of one year, Fitial would be eligible to apply for parole after spending one-third of his sentence or 122 days in jail. Let him spend at least that long and have the time to reflect on the harm that he did, the trust that he breached and the people that were hurt by his corrupt acts.
Transcript of his sentencing:
The Saipan Tribune reports that Ramon B. Camacho placed a newspaper ad yesterday announcing a pardon hearing to be held from June 30 - July 1, 2015 at 9:00am at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center in Susupe. He claims an individual requested the hearing, but he refuses to reveal who this person is. (Inos? Nutting? Fitial?)
From the Saipan Tribune:
In the announcement, Camacho said the board will be considering whether to support or object to a pardon for Fitial.
Camacho said after hearing public testimony and discussing the matter, the board will then vote on whether to support or object to Gov. Eloy S. Inos’ issuance of a pardon.
The chairman urged anyone wishing to submit a written statement to the board for its consideration may do so by dropping it off in person at the Board of Parole Office on Capitol Hill prior to the June 30 hearing.So slick, so typical of those in power in the CNMI. Hold a pardon hearing so Governor Inos doesn't look so bad for pardoning his lifelong friend? When has such a hearing been held before for any criminal?
I also love the fact that a statement has to be dropped off in person. No long-distance views are welcome, thank you very much.
Anyone can predict the ending to this story. The criminal will walk. And as he leaves the commonwealth a free bird, Fitial will likely toss the cane, flash his Cheshire Cat smile (or is it the Joker smile?) and laugh at the victims left behind.