David Tanaka Diaz is back in jail after the Board of Parole realized that there are legal questions about his eligibility for parole.
Diaz is a musician sentenced to 30 years in prison on a drug trafficking offense, but was released in 2010 after serving only eight years due to then governor Benigno R. Fitial's commutation of his sentence.
Saipan Tribune learned that during Friday's Board of Parole rescission hearing, parole hearing examiner Rose Ada Hocog found probable cause to hold Diaz in the Department of Corrections until a full board hearing.
Attorney Edward Arriola Sr. served as counsel for Diaz at the hearing, which was attended by at least one board member. BOP has eight members.
BOP counsel assistant attorney general Lynnette Van Wyngarden said Monday that a revocation hearing occurs when the board believes that a parolee may have violated some terms of their parole.
A rescission hearing, on the other hand, has to do with the board's ability to put that person on parole status, Wyngarden added.
“So the question here is whether Mr. Diaz is even eligible to be on parole status,” the lawyer said.
Wyngarden disclosed that the board decided to have the rescission hearing after discovering the legal issues.
“They discovered that there may have been an error and the board is looking it into right now,” she said.
Wyngarden said that Hocog found probable cause to hold Diaz in jail until his full hearing can be held, possibly by next month.
The BOP counsel said that Diaz was originally detained because there was a question whether he revoked his parole.
“Now the board realized that there maybe question as to whether he is even eligible for parole,” she added.
In August 2001, local and federal law enforcers arrested Diaz for drug trafficking and seized from him 212.59 grams of methamphetamine or “ice” and 77.28 grams of marijuana.
Authorities at the time considered it to be the biggest drug seizure in the Commonwealth in recent years.
In August 2012, then Superior Court associate judge Juan T. Lizama sentenced Diaz to 25 years in jail to be served without parole.
In February 2010, Fitial commuted the 25-year sentence, citing Diaz's “outstanding record” in prison-including painting a school bus stop and helping at the 2008 Liberation Day-as well as the support of the Department of Corrections and community members.
Fitial commuted Diaz's sentence of 25 years imprisonment without parole to 15 years, reducing the sentence by 10 years.
With the commutation, BOP issued Diaz his certificate of parole on March 12, 2010.