Superior Court associate judge David A. Wiseman on Thursday found Rep. Raymond D. Palacios in contempt for disobeying court orders requiring him to make monthly payments in connection with a consolidated 11-year-old civil case.
Wiseman, however, did not sanction Palacios but ordered him to continue the monthly $150 payments to satisfy the judgment in the civil case.
The Bank of Saipan’s civil case has been consolidated with the PTI civil case against Palacios.
At the hearing, attorney Michael White, counsel for Bank of Saipan, said that Palacios had been previously cited for contempt in the proceeding.
White said that Palacios disobeyed a court order on April 23, 2004, that directed him to make monthly payments on the $6,411 remaining in the judgment. In that case, the court directed Palacios to explain on May 5, 2011, why he should not be held in contempt for disobeying court orders.
Palacios failed to appear, White said, and again failed to show up at a Dec. 22, 2011, hearing, prompting the court to issue a bench warrant for his arrest.
White said that Palacios paid only $300 in one year.
He asked the court to cite the lawmaker in contempt and put him in jail.
Palacios told the court he was making payments and that he even voluntarily came to court on Wednesday after learning that he was supposed to appear at the Dec. 22 hearing.
When asked why he paid only $300 in one year despite not having to pay for phone, car, and gas as a lawmaker, Palacios cited his many loans and financial obligations.
Palacios told the media after the hearing that he has been paying $300 per month in loan to Credit Union, $450 per month to Bank of Guam, $600 a month as child support, $50 per month to Wells Fargo, and $350 for apartment rent.
“After all the deductions, my take home is only $212 a month,” he said. “I’m really struggling financially.”
He said he is receiving $1,300 bi-weekly because of tax deductions.
The lawmaker said he is relieved that Wiseman decided not to put him in jail.
Palacios also clarified that although associate judge James N. Camacho remanded him into the custody of the Department of Corrections on Wednesday, he was not arrested and was released after posting $250 cash bail.
Palacios said his “ice” case is really holding him back and that he just wants to focus on his job as a lawmaker.
“I’m trying my very best to serve the people. I’m asking for their patience,” he said.
When Palacios was brought to court on Oct. 31, 2011, after being arrested on trafficking of methamphetamine or “ice” charges, associate judge Perry B. Inos informed the lawmaker about an outstanding bench warrant issued against him on May 5, 2011, for failing to appear in court that day.
In that civil case, Inos released Palacios on his own recognizance and set the hearing for Dec. 1, 2011. Palacios appeared on Dec. 11, but the hearing was subsequently set to Dec. 22.
At the Dec. 11 hearing, Palacios failed again to appear. Wiseman orally issued a bench warrant for the arrest of the lawmaker.
Palacios said when he learned that the hearing was Dec. 22 and not Dec. 29 as he had thought, he immediately contacted White and proceeded to court on Wednesday.
Palacios was not immediately arrested when he arrived in court Wednesday morning as Wiseman had yet to sign the bench warrant order. At the time, Wiseman had a trial on Tinian.
Judge Camacho signed the bench warrant for Wiseman then conducted the hearing.
Camacho reduced the $500 cash bail to $250 and directed a court deputy marshal to take Palacios into custody of the Department of Corrections.
After posting $250 cash, Palacios was released from DOC at 1:45pm that day.