In issuing a bench warrant, Superior Court associate judge David A. Wiseman directed Department of Public Safety acting commissioner Aniceto Ogumoro to arrest attorney general Edward Taylor Buckingham for his failure to appear at the hearing on Monday.
As of yesterday, Office of Public Auditor counsel George Hasselback said they are still looking for options on how to serve the bench warrant to Buckingham, who is reportedly now in the U.S. mainland.
In the bench warrant issued he signed on Tuesday, Wiseman ordered the DPS commissioner or any law enforcement officer to bring Buckingham before the Superior Court without any unnecessary delay.
“Any bail collected shall be remitted to the Clerk of Court with a copy of this warrant, or upon verification of the bail information by the Clerk of Court,” Wiseman said.
The judge set a $50,000 cash bail for Buckingham.
While Aniceto Ogumoro is the acting DPS commissioner, his brother Ambrosio Ogumoro is the DPS deputy commissioner. It was Ambrosio Ogumoro who led a group of uniformed police officers that “escorted” Buckingham at the airport on Saturday.
An FBI special agent served Buckingham with the penal summons at the airport shortly after he and his wife left Saipan at 6am Delta flight to Narita, Japan on Saturday.
In a minute order issued on Tuesday, Wiseman said a bench warrant for the arrest of a defendant charged with several misdemeanors, who does not appear as ordered by the court, would not ordinarily result in a substantial amount of bail in a misdemeanor warrant.
“This case, however, is quite different and justifies an exception in view of the court order being treated with an air of indifference by an attorney who is also the chief legal officer of the CNMI, and the fact that the defendant has actually moved out of the CNMI. The court therefore for a good cause finds that a bench warrant in the sum of $50,000 shall issue,” Wiseman said.
The Office of Public Auditor filed seven criminal misdemeanor charges against Buckingham.
The five charges were in connection with Buckingham's alleged hosting of a delegate candidate's party at Gov. Benigno R. Fitial's house in August 2010 and Buckingham's approval of a $400,000 sole-source ARRA management contract award in October 2010 to Michael Ada within days of the latter stepping down as a Cabinet secretary.
The two charges-obstructing justice: interference with service of process, and misconduct in public office-were related to Buckingham's alleged use of police officers to escort him at the airport to avoid being served with penal summons between Friday and Saturday.