Office of Public Auditor legal counsel George L. Hasselback yesterday submitted his recommendation to Gov. Benigno R. Fitial for the extradition of former attorney general Edward T. Buckingham to face criminal charges filed against him.
“Considering the seriousness of the charges pending against Buckingham, coupled with the fact that he occupied a significant position of public trust, the successful prosecution of this case should be a priority,” said Hasselback, who has been designated as the special prosecutor in the case.
In a letter to Fitial, Hasselback said the case against the former attorney general cannot proceed without a warrant from the governor for Buckingham's extradition and the “ends of justice would be frustrated as the Commonwealth's interest in seeing its laws upheld would be thwarted.”
The OPA counsel said the request for extradition is not being made to vindicate any personal claims against Buckingham, but pursuant to the prosecution of a criminal case.
Hasselback cited that, as the CNMI Superior Court and the CNMI Supreme Court recognized, Buckingham left the CNMI with full knowledge that criminal charges had been filed against him.
Attorney General Joey San Nicolas assigned Hasselback as conflict counsel in this matter as the former and the Office of the Attorney General had potential conflicts in the case.
San Nicolas 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 interest of justice requires the latter's extradition.
OPA filed seven criminal misdemeanor charges against Buckingham. An FBI special agent reportedly served Buckingham with the penal summons at the Saipan international airport shortly after he and his wife left Saipan at 6am Delta flight to Narita, Japan on Aug. 4, 2012.
OPA filed seven criminal misdemeanor charges against Buckingham.