Judge orders Fitial to pay $2K in restitution to govt


Superior Court Associate Judge David A. Wiseman has ordered former governor Benigno R. Fitial to pay $2,000 in restitution to the CNMI government for the damage he caused the Commonwealth resulting from his criminal conviction.

In an order on Wednesday, Wiseman gave Fitial 15 days to pay the full amount.

Attorney George L. Hasselback, as counsel for the government, and attorney Stephen J. Nutting, as counsel for Fitial, submitted to court on Wednesday an agreement for Fitial to pay restitution in the amount of $2,000.

Hasselback and Nutting agreed to give the former governor 15 days to pay the amount in full from the day of the court’s order accepting their agreement for payment.

The restitution is the only remaining issue in Fitial’s case.

Last Aug. 18, Fitial, through Nutting, paid the $6,000 fine and $100 court assessment fee that the court imposed on him.

Fitial pleaded guilty in May to misconduct in public office and conspiracy to commit theft of service as part of a plea deal.

The offense of misconduct in public office refers to the time when Fitial had his masseuse—a Chinese woman who was at that time a federal prisoner at the Department of Corrections—temporarily released so she could massage him at his house on Jan. 8, 2010.

The conspiracy to commit theft of services refers to Fitial’s role in former attorney general Edward T. Buckingham’s efforts to evade lawful service of process during his departure from the CNMI at the Francisco C. Ada-Saipan International Airport on Aug. 3 or 4, 2010.

Last June 23, Wiseman imposed a one-year prison sentence on the 69-year-old Fitial.

The former governor was supposed to start serving his prison term last July 6, but Gov. Eloy S. Inos commuted the prison term a day before.

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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