Man pleads guilty to burglarizing lawyer’s home

A habitual offender pleaded guilty yesterday for burglarizing the home of lawyer Joseph Taijeron and his wife in Garapan. Benjamin Bok Lee, 28, will be sentenced on July 3 at 9am.

Under the plea deal, Lee will be sentenced to prison between three years and 10 years, pay a possible fine of up to $10,000, and pay restitution to the victims.

Lee broke into the house of Taijeron and his wife, Jamika, in Garapan and stole items on Aug. 2, 2017.

Assistant attorney general Jonathan Robert Glass Jr. prosecuted the case. Assistant public defender Nancy Dominski is counsel for Lee. Superior Court Presiding Judge Roberto C. Naraja is presiding.

According to a police report, Jamika Taijeron had just left her purse on a table in their home’s dining area when she later discovered it was gone and the front sliding door was open. Taijeron immediately called her husband.

She then checked the surveillance camera of a neighbor that captured the suspect’s car and she posted the car’s photo on her Facebook account. That led to Lee’s identification and arrest on Aug. 21, 2017.

Joseph Taijeron, a lawyer with the House of Representatives, told police that a day or two prior to the burglary, Lee approached him at his house and told him he lived in that same house a while back. Lee then left.

Police said that, soon after his arrest, Lee confessed to the crime and disclosed that he sold some of the stolen items and played poker.

In August 2017, Lee, who is also a self-confessed drug addict, was slapped with a three-year prison term for robbing a student who had just gotten out of school at Mt. Carmel School in Chalan Kanoa and was injured after he was dragged by the defendant’s car by 50 feet.

Superior Court Associate Judge Kenneth L. Govendo said after completing the three-year prison term, Lee would be placed on supervised probation for four years and that he may apply for parole.

A day before the sentencing in the Chalan Kanoa robbery case, Lee was arrested in As Lito in connection with the burglary at the Taijeron’s home.

On Aug. 1, 2017, Lee allegedly shattered the window of a vehicle where his wife was with their child and her friend at the entrance of Coral Ocean Point in Koblerville. He also allegedly repeatedly punched his wife’s male friend.

At a preliminary hearing, Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho found no probable cause to charge Lee and dismissed without prejudice the charges. Dismissal without prejudice means the government may re-file the charges in the future.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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