The federal court has notified former lieutenant governor Timothy P. Villagomez, former Commerce secretary James A. Santos, and Joaquina V. Santos that their property is being taken by the U.S. government to satisfy the judgment against them totaling $1.09 million.
In separate notices of post-judgment execution on Wednesday, U.S. District Court for the NMI Magistrate Judge Heather L. Kennedy said there have been credits to the judgment debt totaling $7,077.21 each for Villagomez, James Santos, and Joaquina Santos.
This leaves a balance of $339,447.29 for Villagomez; $371,471.03 for James Santos; and $371,471.03 for Joaquina Santos, Kennedy said.
The court issued the notices after the U.S. government recently filed a writ of execution to seize part of the NMI Retirement Fund’s proceeds that Villagomez and the Santo couple are entitled to.
Assistant U.S. attorney Jessica F. Cruz said these Fund’s proceeds may be taken to satisfy the judgment for the conviction of Villagomez and the Santos couple.
Kennedy informed Villagomez and the Santos couple that there are exemptions under the law that may protect some of their property from being taken by the U.S. government—if they can show that the exemptions apply.
Kennedy attached in the notice a summary of the major exemptions that apply in most situations in the CNMI.
The judge said the three have the right to ask the court to return their property to them if they think they do not owe the U.S. government the money it claims they do or if they think the property the government is taking qualifies under one of the exemptions.
Kennedy said that Villagomez and the Santos couple must notify the court within 20 days after receiving the notice if they want a hearing on the matter.
If they do not request a hearing within 20 days of receiving the notice, Kennedy said the property may be sold at public auction and the proceeds of the sale will be applied to the debt they owe the U.S. government.
The defendants were convicted for their role in a conspiracy to defraud the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. through needless purchases of a de-scaling chemical called Rydlyme.
A few months ago, the federal court resentenced Villagomez to nine years in prison. In August 2009, the court sentenced the Santos couple to six years and six months in prison each.