Hillbroom arrested again in Palau on ‘ice’ trafficking charges


The proceedings in Junior Larry Hillbroom’s legal malpractice lawsuit before the U.S. District Court against his former lawyers may likely be affected again as Hillbroom was arrested anew last week in the Republic of Palau for allegedly trafficking methamphetamine or “ice.”

Attorney Rachel A. Dimitruk, counsel for Hillbroom, notified the U.S. District Court for the NMI on Friday about Hillbroom’s arrest after a new criminal case was filed against him in Palau.

The information, which was filed by the Palau Office of the Attorney General last Oct. 6, charged Hillbroom with two counts of trafficking a controlled substance.

According to the charges, Hillbroom did knowingly deliver or possess with intent to deliver methamphetamine on April 11 and May 9, 2017.

Each charge is a felony punishable by a sentence of not less than 25 years imprisonment, but not more than 50 years and a fine of not less than $50,000 but not more than $1 million, according to the charging document.

According to a court document, Hillbroom was taken before the Supreme Court of Palau Trial Division for his first appearance last Thursday, Oct. 12.

Hillbroom, who appeared with counsel William Ridpath, entered a not guilty plea to the charges. Assistant attorney general Evan Robbins appeared for the Palau government.

Associate Justice Lourdes F. Materne ordered bail for $250,000 cash or $500,000 surety.

A plea/trial setting conference will be on Oct. 27, 2017 at 9am in chambers.

According to news reports in Palau, Hillbroom was arrested last Wednesday, Oct. 11, by the country’s drug enforcement operatives in the State of Peleliu on strength of an arrest warrant issued a day before.

According to court documents, the Narcotics Enforcement Agency was assigned to investigate a case involving suspected drug trafficking involving another person, but it was Hillbroom who allegedly showed up and made an “ice” transaction with NEA’s confidential informant last April 11.

Hillbroom allegedly made another “ice” transaction with the confidential informant last May 9.

The quantity of the “ice” involved in the two deals was not indicated in court documents.

The trial of Hillbroom in connection with his previous arrest in 2016 pertaining to “ice” trafficking case supposed to commence in January 2018.

Hillbroom was released from jail last August after serving a 60-day prison sentence in Palau for pleading guilty to an escape charge.

Last July, attorney Barry Israel expressed doubt how Hillbroom’s lawsuit in federal court can proceed given Hillbroom’s 60-day prison term and a pending drug case in the Republic of Palau.

Israel, through counsel, said the U.S. District Court for the NMI and the parties in Hillbroom’s lawsuit are in no better position now to determine how the Palau’s criminal cases will impede this civil case than they were at the last hearing on Feb. 21, 2017.

Hillbroom filed a legal malpractice in District Court against his former counsel, Israel and Guam lawyer David J. Lujan.

Asked for comments yesterday about last week’s arrest of Hillbroom, attorney Mark Bradley Hanson said his law office will continue to assist Hillbroom in his legal malpractice lawsuit.

Early this year, Hillbroom pleaded guilty to a lesser included offense of escape in the second degree before the Supreme Court of the Republic of Palau Trial Division and was slapped with a 60-day prison term.

Hillbroom is one of the four DNA-proven children of the late business tycoon and DHL co-founder Larry Lee Hillblom. He was recaptured in Palau hours after he escaped from police’s custody on Feb. 9, 2016 just a few hours after he was arrested over the seizure of $160,000 worth of methamphetamine or “ice.”

Hillbroom’s name is spelled differently from DHL co-founder Hillblom.

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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