It was supposed to be a police sting operation against controversial Mohammed Jahangir Miah for allegedly receiving a stolen video camera. It turned out, however, that the camera belonged to the police and was never stolen after all.
As a result, the 38-year-old Miah yesterday got away with another criminal case that the Office of the Attorney General filed against him.
At a preliminary hearing, Superior Court associate judge Kenneth L. Govendo found no probable cause that the crimes of receiving stolen property and violating the terms of release in other cases were committed.
Govendo basically agreed with Miah's counsel, Colin Thompson, that there was no crime of receipt of stolen property as the camera was not a stolen property.
As the viability of the other charges depend on a finding of probable cause in the charge of receiving stolen property, the charges of violating the terms of release were subsequently dismissed.
In dismissing the case, Govendo stated he does not want to discourage the OAG from going after people who received stolen property as it is an important crime to investigate.
At the hearing, chief prosecutor Peter Prestley called a detective to the witness stand who narrated the circumstances leading to Miah's arrest a few days ago.
According to the prosecution, two persons who were earlier arrested for burglary agreed to help the police in finding other people engaged in receiving stolen items.
The two persons claimed that Miah was one of those receiving stolen items. The two then agreed to become the police's cooperating sources during a sting operation against Miah.
Thompson told Saipan Tribune that during the sting operation, police handed to the two cooperating sources a video camera that belongs to the Department of Public Safety.
Thompson said police were able to obtain an eavesdropping warrant from the Superior Court so one of the cooperating sources was wearing a recording wire.
The defense lawyer said the police then took the cooperating sources to Miah's house.
Thompson said according to the cooperating sources, they told Miah that they had a stolen camera that they wanted to sell to him.
Thompson said the two claimed that Miah agreed to buy it and handed $10.
The lawyer said when the two cooperating sources left the house, police arrested Miah.
At the hearing, Thompson argued that there was no stolen property because the property belongs to the police and it was always in the custody of the police.
“At all time it was never stolen so there's no stolen property so the judge agreed,” Thompson said.
“We think the judge made the right decision. Because the crime was receipt of stolen property and there was no stolen property,” he pointed out.
In October 2012, police also arrested Miah for allegedly receiving stolen items belonging to William S. Reyes Elementary School.
Superior Court Associate Judge Perry B. Inos, however, dismissed the charges during a preliminary hearing after finding no probable cause to warrant the filing of the case.
In July 2012, the U.S. District Court for the NMI acquitted Miah for lack of corroborating evidence in a case of conspiracy to forge stale CNMI tax refund checks.
Miah is awaiting sentencing in federal court for conspiracy to unlawfully produce driver's licenses.