Superior Court Associate Judge David A. Wiseman yesterday slapped a one-year prison term against former Office of Aging director Rose DLG. Mondala who pleaded guilty to two charges that stemmed from using the Aging Office’s funds and materials for the needs of the Covenant Party during the 2009 elections and to build a fence at her house in Kagman.
“Such conduct cannot and will not be tolerated and the proverbial message must be sent that government officials who betray the public trust by violating the laws of the CNMI will go to jail for a substantial term,” Wiseman said.
Wiseman said he has reviewed the doctor’s report stating the numerous illnesses the 71-year-old Mondala has and the medication being administered.
The judge said he has taken this factor into consideration in sentencing the defendant.
However, Wiseman said, a medical condition although can and will mitigate the sentence, “it will not cancel it out.”
Wiseman sentenced Mondala to the maximum term of five years in prison, all suspended except for one year, for the offense of forgery.
The judge sentenced Mondala to a $500 fine for the crime of use of public supplies, time, and personnel for campaign activities.
The defendant was to start serving the prison term at the Department of Corrections on June 1, 2016.
After completing the prison term, the defendant will be placed on probation for three years.
Mondala was required to pay restitution to the Aging Office in the amount of $68 plus another amount to be determined in 60 days for all other sums she wrongfully used or stolen based from the original charges.
Mondala was also ordered to pay $100 in court costs plus probation fee in an amount to be assessed by the Office of Adult Probation.
The defendant was required to write a letter of apology to the people of the CNMI and to the Aging Office within 30 days of her release, to be published in the “Letters to the Editor” sections of both two local newspapers.
The Office of the Attorney General charged Mondala with 41 charges, which carry maximum sentence of 126 years of prison term and/or up to $128,000 in fines.
Last Feb. 25, Mondala pleaded guilty to one count of forgery and one count of use of public supplies, time, and personnel for campaign activities.
As part of the plea agreement, assistant attorney general Matthew C. Baisley moved to dismiss the remaining 39 charges. The court granted the motion.
The 39 charges are 21 counts of forgery; six counts of misconduct in public office; seven counts of use of public supplies, time, and personnel for campaign activities; two counts of use of public position to obtain benefits for business or social acquaintances; one count of theft of services; one count of theft; and one count of use of office, staff or employees of a public office for personal benefit.
According to the factual basis of the plea agreement pertaining to forgery, on June 15, 2009, Mondala signed the signature of another person to an invoice submitted by a commercial vendor to a government agency for payment, without permission of the person, in order to hide the eventual disposition of the goods covered by the invoice.
With respect to the offense of use of public supplies, time, and personnel for campaign activities, on Sept. 5, 2009, Mondala, in her capacity as director of Aging, knowingly caused items purchased with government funds to be delivered to persons working on behalf of a political campaign.
Such items were to be used to promote the candidacy of a particular political candidate, according to the plea agreement.
Assistant attorney general Baisley noted in the plea agreement that Mondala has provided a signed “medical condition letter” from Dr. Vicente S. Aldan regarding her various serious medical problems.
Both Baisley and defense counsel Loren Sutton recommended a lenient sentence on Mondala due to her age and health.
The Probation Office recommended a sentence of one-year imprisonment as well as probation and other terms.
At yesterday’s sentencing, Wiseman said although the crimes for which Mondala is convicted of involved her as then- executive director of the Aging Office, who owed fiduciary duty to the CNMI government and its people, stole $68 of government money, the original 41 charges of criminal conduct showed a pattern of stealing and using money and resources over a period of more than one year for a sum totaling $42,000.
Wiseman said Mondala used the government funds she was entrusted with for her own personal and political desires.
The judge said Mondala treated public funds like her own private piggybank taking out money and using the government resources whenever she felt like it.
Indeed, Wiseman said, in this case Mondala deprived many members of the man’amko of potential resources and benefits.
“The culture of corruption that existed under a former administration should be totally eradicated and persons actively engaged in such culture be punished pursuant to the law,” he added.