Ex-lawmaker allegedly lied in his financial statements

Gregorio Vicente Muna Sablan Jr. pleads not guilty

The Office of the Attorney General has filed a criminal case against former Precinct 1 representative Gregorio Vicente Muña Sablan Jr. for allegedly not disclosing in his statement of financial interest when he was a lawmaker that he was connected and earned an income from a shooting range on Saipan.

According to court documents obtained by Saipan Tribune last Friday, assistant attorney general Chester Hinds filed an amended information last Jan. 6 charging the 53-year-old Sablan with two counts of violating disclosure requirements and two counts of misconduct in public office.

Sablan appeared with his counsel, Mark Scoggins, during an arraignment before Superior Court Associate Judge Kenneth L. Govendo last Jan. 6.

The defendant, through Scoggins, waived the reading of the charges, waived advisement of his constitutional rights, and pleaded not guilty.

The Office of the Public Auditor investigated the matter. Hinds filed the original information last Dec. 18, but this was later amended due to a typographical error.

According to the amended information, Sablan, who was then-serving in the CNMI House of Representatives for the 20th Legislature, lied or gave inaccurate information on his Statement of Financial Interest for 2017 and 2018, which he was required to submit under CNMI law. That lie violated the CNMI Ethics Act of 1992, Hinds said.

Hinds said Sablan failed to disclose that he was an “officer, director, associate, partner, proprietor or employee” from which he derived an income in excess of $2,500 from the Saipan International Shooting Range Inc.

The prosecutor said that Sablan, as a public official in 2017 and 2018, “performed illegal acts under the color of office,” that he willfully neglected to perform the duties of his office when he lied in his Statement of Financial Interest on April 24, 2018 and on May 20, 2019.

Sablan was not arrested and was only summoned last Dec. 18 to appear at the Jan. 6 hearing.

A process server served the penal summons on Sablan at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center in Susupe last Dec. 19.

According to the minute order of the Jan. 6 hearing, Govendo imposed terms and condition for Sablan to comply such as to return to court whenever required to do so, to obey all CNMI and federal laws, not to leave Saipan without the court’s permission, and to stay away from all seaports and airports.

Govendo set a case management conference on Feb. 25, 2020, at 1:30pm where the parties are ordered to be prepared to advise the court whether the matter will be disposed of by a change of plea, trial, or other disposition.

Govendo said the parties should also be prepared to select a trial date.

Sablan, a GOP member, ran for re-election for the House Precinct 1 position in the November 2018 election but lost.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com
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