Fitial Sentenced to Five Years in Prison: All suspended except one

June 24, 2015

Yesterday, Superior Court Associate Judge David Wiseman sentenced notorious ex-governor Benigno Fitial for corruption charges. For the charge of  misconduct in public office he received the maximum sentence of five years in jail, all suspended except for one year with a $5,000 fine. For conspiracy to commit theft he received the maximum sentence of one year, with 30 days to serve and a $1,000 fine.

The charges relate to the two-term governor allowing a federal prisoner to be released from jail to give him a late night massage and for providing an airport escort to help ex-Attorney General Edward Buckingham escape from the CNMI after a warrant was issued for his arrest for 6 corruption charges.

Fitial entered the courtroom on the arm of his wife, Josie, walking slowly a cane and looking many years older than  his 69 years. The courtroom was filled with his supporters.

Fitial's attorney, Stephen Nutting presented the court with 19 letters of support from family members, friends, former classmates and former government officials asking the judge for leniency.

The letters cite his years of public service and poor health as a consideration for leniency in sentencing.One letter writer was former Ports Authority Board chair Jose Lifoifoi, who touted Fitial's years of service to the CNMI. He noted that the impeachment and this trial tarnished those years of service. (Actually Fitial, himself, tarnished any years of service with his corrupt, unethical and legal acts.)

Judge Wiseman said that Fitial's conduct cannot, should not, and will not be tolerated and the proverbial message must be sent that government officials who betray the public trust by violating the laws of the CNMI will in all likelihood go to jail.

Chief Prosecutor Leonardo Rapadas said that the sentencing sends a strong message to all government officials that they are not safe. They need to adhere to the ethics of the office."

Office of the Public Auditor prosecutor George Hassleback said that the sentencing was a "testament to those people out there who step forward and speak up when they see incidences of corruption within our government."

Fitial reportedly asked his family for forgiveness. He must report to the department of corrections by July 6, 2015.

It is unlikely that Fitial will spend even one day in jail. His long-time business and political pal, Governor Eloy Inos will most likely pardon him, or he will fail to return to the CNMI from the Philippines where he has been living for the last few years.

More to follow.


Anonymous said...

A female federal prisoner was taken out of federal prison at late night to give notorious CNMI Ex- governor a massage. Why was feds so quite? Why was he not prosecuted by feds right away? What is wrong with CNMI FBI? The federal agencies responsible to punish a violator must be prosecuted. What is the wrong with United States Department of justice?

Anonymous said...

A. anon above, the US DA in Guam is also over the CNMI and her father and Ben are old political cronies coupled by the fed judge here was recommended by Ben too

B. Ben will be pardoned before he puts on the jumpsuit by Inos who will never run again and that deal was already cut behind doors before he returned the last time...I know

captain said...

Anon 7:54 is so correct as the Parole board has already scheduled a "hearing" requested by an "unamed person" (Tribune)

Anonymous said...

It seems that anon, 7:54 is correct. Inos is waiting to pardon Fitial and then he can contemplate retiring due to health reasons. Inos has enough skeletons in his closet and Fitial is not above sharing that info to keep Inos on the leash. Why do you think Ray M. is still in the administration? He too knows where many of the proverbial "bodies" are buried. The only thing we can be thankful for is Fitial is not long with his remaining time here on earth and many others are rounding the final corner in their journey of life. Until the herd starts thinning through the natural course of things the CNMI will still be laughed at by the U.S. Government Agencies, Congress and anyone world wide who knows what first world governments are supposed to look like. In the meantime unscrupulous companies will come here with their brown bag full of graft, play like they respect the local government all the while laughing behind their back at just how cheaply the folks on Capital Hill can be bought. In the meantime the ones those clowns represent spiral deeper into the third world,,,,,,,,,,,,,, ai adai