Following Attorney General Joey P. San Nicolas' opinion on the controversial no-bid $190.8-million power purchase agreement, Sen. Ralph Torres (R-Saipan) said the CNMI government “should bring back at all costs” former attorney general Edward T. Buckingham.
“I continue to urge the administration to acknowledge that Ed Buckingham is a fugitive,” said Torres Wednesday.
He said it is important that Buckingham be extradited back to the CNMI so he could clarify exactly what transpired when he and Gov. Benigno R. Fitial signed the power purchase agreement with Delaware-based Saipan Development LLC.
On Sept. 11, 2012, Superior Court associate judge David Wiseman issued an order declaring Buckingham a fugitive from justice.
The Office of the Public Auditor had filed seven criminal misdemeanor charges against Buckingham. An FBI special agent reportedly served Buckingham with the penal summons at the Saipan International Airport shortly before he and his wife left Saipan on a 6am Delta flight to Narita, Japan on Aug. 4, 2012.
In his opinion issued on Monday, San Nicolas declared that Fitial is not liable for any cause of action related to his signing of the power purchase agreement.
San Nicolas said Fitial cannot be blamed because he reasonably relied on the certification of then attorney general Buckingham that the power purchase agreement was “proper as to form and capacity.”
San Nicolas, however, determined that Fitial did not have the authority, pursuant to Executive Order 2012-17, to enter into the power purchase agreement with Saipan Development LLC.
Asked for an update regarding Buckingham's extradition, press secretary Angel A. Demapan on Wednesday said Fitial has no position until a recommendation is communicated for his review and determination.
San Nicolas stated that the issue of Buckingham's extradition is being handled by Office of Public Auditor legal counsel George Hasselback.
San Nicolas said he assigned Hasselback as conflict counsel in this matter as he (San Nicolas) and the Office of the Attorney General had potential conflicts in the case.
San Nicolas recently asked Hasselback to prepare an analysis and recommendation on the extradition matter to be submitted to Fitial no later than Jan. 10, 2013.
San Nicolas designated Hasselback as special prosecutor to assess the criminal charges against Buckingham and to determine whether the interests of justice requires the latter's extradition.