Man gets 46 months in prison for stealing judge’s gun


The federal court slapped Friday an imprisonment sentence of three years and 10 months against a habitual offender who burglarized the house of Superior Court Associate Judge Kenneth L. Govendo and stole the judge’s gun, among other items.

After serving his sentence, Cling Philip Kaipat will be immediately placed on three years of supervised release, said U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona.

As part of his supervised release, Kaipat must refrain from drinking any alcoholic beverages and using a controlled substance. He is also required to participate in a mental health treatment program and substance abuse treatment program, and must take all mental health medications prescribed by the treating physician.

Manglona said the defendant must stay away from Govendo, his immediate family members, and his residence.

The 23-year-old Kaipat was ordered to perform 50 hours of community service, but this condition shall be suspended if he is employed. He was ordered to immediately pay $100 in special assessment fee.

Manglona granted assistant U.S. attorney Garth Backe’s motion to dismiss the remaining charge against Kaipat as part of the plea deal.

Backe appeared at the hearing as counsel for the U.S. government. U.S. probation officer Gregory Arriola also appeared in court.

Kaipat and his court-appointed counsel, Colin Thompson, as well as psychologist Dr. Ashley Christiansen, appeared from the U.S. mainland via video teleconference. Kaipat is currently in a medical center in the U.S. mainland.

Manglona found Kaipat competent to proceed in the criminal proceeding. The judge also entered a finding that the defendant suffers from a mental disease of schizophrenia, but will proceed to sentencing.

Backe informed the court that there are no legal victims in this matter, but that he was in communication with Govendo regarding the knife that was among the items stolen. Backe said the knife will be returned to Saipan to its rightful owner. The minutes of the hearing did not provide more details about the knife.

Kaipat spoke in court before Manglona handed down the sentence.

With respect to Kaipat’s separate conviction in the Superior Court case arising from the same burglary, the Office of the Attorney General and the Department of Corrections have agreed to relinquish their jurisdiction over Kaipat.

Last March, Manglona ordered an additional 120 days for Kaipat’s further treatment and evaluation in the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in the mainland. Kaipat was committed to MCFP on Jan. 23, 2017.

Manglona initially found Kaipat mentally incompetent to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him or to assist properly in his defense.

On May 19, 2017, the MCFP issued a certificate of competency, establishing that Kaipat was mentally competent to permit the proceedings to move forward.

In April 2018, Manglona ordered another psychiatric or psychological examination because Kaipat’s competency was questionable.

Following a competency hearing on Aug. 10, 2018, Manglona again found the defendant mentally incompetent. The judge then committed him to the custody of the U.S. Attorney General for hospitalization and treatment.

In November 2017, Kaipat pleaded guilty in federal court to possession of a stolen firearm.

According to the factual basis of the plea agreement, on Nov. 5, 2015, Kaipat possessed a stolen 9mm Smith and Wesson pistol. Kaipat knew the pistol was stolen because he stole it while burglarizing Govendo’s home on Saipan.

In that burglary, he also stole a watch, a hunting knife, and $500 in U.S. currency. Govendo was off-island when the burglary happened.

In the Superior Court case, Kaipat also pleaded guilty to burglary and theft as part of a plea deal. In November 2016, Superior Court Associate Judge Teresa Kim-Tenorio sentenced him to a total of six years in prison. The six-year prison sentence, however, will run concurrently with the sentence in Kaipat’s conviction in federal court’s case. It means that he will serve the six years in prison within whatever prison term the District Court will impose on him.

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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