Ex-police sergeant Tagabuel gets 6-month prison term


Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho yesterday slapped a six-month prison term on former police sergeant Vicente O. Tagabuel, who used the butt end of a knife to pound on the roof of a car as his son and the son’s girlfriend were sitting inside the vehicle.
Camacho sentenced the 55-year-old Tagabuel to the maximum of six months in prison each for two counts of assault and two counts of disturbing the peace. The sentences shall run concurrently. This means that Tagabuel’s actual total prison term is six months.

He will serve the sentence without the possibility of parole. He was given credit for time served.

After the hearing, Camacho ordered the court marshals to immediately take Tagabuel to the Department of Corrections to start serving his sentence.

Assistant attorney general Chemere McField represented the government. Attorney Michael Dotts served as counsel for Tagabuel.

According to the plea agreement that Tagabuel signed with the government, he used the butt end of a knife to pound on the car with the while his son and his son’s girlfriend were sitting inside. Tagabuel threatened to do them bodily harm via violence and thereby also disturbed their peace. No one was physically hurt.

On April 3, 2014, the Office of the Attorney General dismissed all felony charges in the case. This left four misdemeanor charges, which Tagabuel pleaded guilty to.

The former police sergeant supposedly had other criminal case that happened in 2003, but on March 28, 2014, OAG dismissed it in its entirety.

Dotts previously told Saipan Tribune that the 2003 case was when Tagabuel drove his car and smashed into a picnic table and other items at a house.

In the 2012 case, Camacho initially rejected a proposed global plea agreement entered by the government and Tagabuel for the two criminal cases. Camacho said the proposed deal does not meet the court’s standards and the CNMI community as the term of imprisonment is two years, a fraction of the possible maximum sentence for the crimes at issue.

The judge noted that at the time of the commission of at least one of the offenses, Tagabuel was a police sergeant with the Department of Public Safety, and that both offenses involved the use of a dangerous weapon.

According to court records, OAG and Tagabuel filed a global plea agreement on Jan. 29, 2013. That same day, the defendant pleaded guilty to assault with a dangerous weapon in 2012 case and disturbing the peace in 2003 case.

Presiding Judge Robert C. Naraja entered judgment against the defendant, but deferred sentencing and the decision concerning acceptance or rejection of the plea deal until after the completion of a presentencing investigation report.

The sentencing was originally scheduled for April 16, 2013, but that hearing was vacated and rescheduled several times.

On Jan. 14, 2014, Naraja reassigned the matter to Camacho.

In a previous interview, Dotts stated that in the 2012 case, Tagabuel pounded the top of his car with a knife because he wanted his son to return the vehicle.

“It’s a dispute between a father and son,” the lawyer pointed out.

“He lost his job and lost his pension,” said Dotts, adding that Tagabuel worked for 23 years in different capacities at DPS and at the Department of Corrections.

Court records show that in the 2003 case the OAG charged Tagabuel with assault with a dangerous weapon, assault, three counts of disturbing the peace, and two counts of criminal mischief for allegedly threatening Andrew Rapoulug with a machete on Dec. 29, 2002.

Tagabuel has previous conviction. In a 2011 criminal case, the OAG charged him with utility theft in the amount of $196.70. He pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay a $50 fine, $196.70 in restitution and a reconnection fee of $93.37 to the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. There was no jail term.

In May 2012, Superior Court Associate Judge David Wiseman issued two bench warrants against Tagabuel—one in 2003 for not appearing at a review hearing in a small claim matter and one in 2004 for not appearing at a status conference in the 2003 criminal case.

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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