Judge admonishes prosecutors


Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho admonished yesterday the two prosecutors in the ongoing bench trial of former Labor secretary Edith Eleanor Deleon Guerrero for what he described as their “lack of preparedness.”

Camacho made the admonition after some issues came up during assistant public defender Heather Zona’s cross-examination of the government’s fourth witness because the witness could’ve possibly incriminated herself.

In his minute order issued after the hearing yesterday afternoon, Camacho noted that at the pre-trial conference hearing, the parties stated that there were no issues as to witnesses.

Assistant attorney general Jonathan Robert Glass Jr. is lead counsel for the government in the case. AAG Jonathan Wilberscheid has been assisting Glass in the trial.

Camacho said certain documents have been admitted as evidence that indicate a number of authorized drivers on a rental agreement.

Camacho said the prosecution in its case called their fourth witness, Katrina Agulto Diaz, a former employee of the Workforce Investment Agency.

During cross-examination of Diaz by Zona, who is counsel for Deleon Guerrero, issues about the witness incriminating herself came up.

Camacho then excused Diaz and inquired how many witness or witnesses might have the same issue. The prosecution informed the court of the other witnesses.

After hearing the counsels’ arguments, the judge called back Diaz to the stand and advised her of her constitutional rights and informed her that the court will appoint counsel to discuss the issues with her.

Camacho then called another government witness, Donyale Deleon Guerrero, a WIA employee, and advised her of her constitutional rights and informed her that the court will appoint counsel to discuss the issues with her.

Camacho ordered Diaz and Donyale Deleon Guerrero to return to the court today, Friday, at 10:30am. The trial will resume today in the District Court courtroom at 10am.

The government’s third witness, Finance director Bernie Palacios, completed her testimony yesterday.

Deleon Guerrero is on trial for three infractions—no tinting on a government vehicle, requiring that government vehicles be marked on their front doors, and requiring government vehicles to bear government license plates.

According to the charges, on Dec. 8, 2013 to Oct. 11, 2016, Deleon Guerrero, as Labor secretary, used a government vehicle that had tinting on its windows, that was not clearly marked as a government vehicle, and did not bear government license plates.

The government alleged that Deleon Guerrero leased a vehicle for more than 12 months through her workplace.

But Zona said the government has provided a stack of short-term car rental agreements, not leases.

“The government cannot convert a short-term rental agreement into a lease simply by calling it a lease,” Zona said.

According to court documents, Police Officer Jesus Santos issued the traffic citation against Deleon Guerrero on Oct. 16, 2016, in the parking lot of the Happiness Chinese Restaurant in western Garapan.

The car was registered at that time to Marfega Trading Co. Inc., which owns Islander Rent-A-Car.

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

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