U.S. District Court for the NMI designated Judge Frances M. Tydingco-Gatewood has removed Vincent S. Attao as a defendant in a lawsuit filed a prison inmate, since he is no longer the DOC commissioner.
Current acting DOC commissioner Wally Flores Villagomez will be substituted in the lawsuit, pursuant to the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure.
It was inmate Anthony Rios who requested the substitution. Rios is serving a 45-year prison term for sexual crimes. He filed a petition for habeas corpus and named as respondent the DOC commissioner.
Rios alleged that then-DOC commissioner Attao denied his request to use the computer with internet access so he could research to support his case.
According to court records, Rios pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual abuse in 1997. He was sentenced to five years. After his release from prison in 2003, Rios reoffended and was sentenced to five years. In 2012, he reoffended again and was charged with sexual assault. Based upon those charges, the government evoked his probation in both the 1997 and 2003 cases.
In 2012, Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho sentenced Rios to the maximum 45 years for the 1997 and 2003 cases.
Rios appealed, but the CNMI Supreme Court affirmed his conviction in 2015 and the 45-year prison term that Camacho imposed on him.