Member of burglary crew gets 5 years in prison


Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho yesterday resentenced Jeffrey Jindawong Lizama to the maximum of five years in prison for his role in the conspiracy to burglarize a warehouse in Afetnas and steal copper wire and other items.

Camacho ordered the 20-year-old Lizama to serve the prison term day to day without the possibility of parole.

Lizama was given credit for time served.

“The people of the CNMI cry out for justice against the epidemic of thefts, burglaries, and robberies. There can be no justice without the appropriate punishment,” the judge said.

Camacho noted that Lizama was part of an experienced burglary crew, and that several members of the group are repeat offenders.

“When criminals band together, the potential for damage and harm is magnified. When criminals band together to commit a crime, it emboldens each member of the group,” the judge said.

Camacho said a sentence of five years is appropriate because Lizama is an adult, who admitted to committing the crime.

Lizama was 18 years old when he committed the offense.

Camacho said no sentence is suspended and no parole is appropriate because defendant has already gotten the benefit in the plea agreement when all other charges were dismissed by the Office of the Attorney General amounting to possible jail sentence of over 30 years.

Assistant attorney general Heather Barcinas recommended a prison term of three years plus other conditions.

Defense counsel David Banes recommended a prison term of three years with credit for three years time-served.

Camacho said the CNMI Supreme Court has ruled that a warehouse used for storage is considered an unoccupied structure, meaning that Lizama can only be sentenced to a possible maximum prison term of five years.

“This court is duty bound to faithfully follow the mandates of the CNMI Supreme Court,” Camacho said.

The judge said Lizama is not a candidate for rehabilitation.

He noted that Lizama has prior conviction/adjudication in juvenile cases.

Camacho said those cases—containing some jail terms—but mostly suspended sentences fail to rehabilitate Lizama.

He said those lenient sentences in Lizama’s prior case fail to be a significant deterrence.

The judge said Lizama requires a much longer sentence to insure that he fully understands his actions and is deterred from committing any future crimes.

Camacho said defendant’s argument that “it’s only a property crime” and not a crime of violence is unpersuasive.

Lizama has two other prior cases as a juvenile.

Camacho said defendant’s own father states that defendant has a problem with stealing.

Camacho said after stealing and destroying over $4,000 worth of another person’s property, the burglary crew got a grand total of $120, with each of the five members got an equal share of $20.

“Did defendant Lizama go and buy medicine or food for his family? No. Instead each member of the burglary crew went into a poker parlor to gamble,” Camacho said.

Lizama was among the five defendants charged in the burglary at the warehouse of Han Nam, formerly known as the Onu Moda Factory, on Dec. 18 and 19, 2012.

Lizama and Mathias Salasiban pleaded guilty to burglary. In 2013, Camacho slapped the two with a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison with no parole.

Lizama and Salasiban appealed.

In 2014, the CNMI Supreme Court returned the case to Superior Court for resentencing because not ordering the presentence investigation report resulted in Salasiban receiving a sentence twice as long as the statutory maximum for the crime he committed.

With respect to Lizama’s appeal, the high court ruled that warehouse use for storage is considered unoccupied structure and sentence can only be a maximum of five years in prison.

In June 2015, Camacho resentenced Salasiban to the maximum of five years in prison, to be served day to day without the possibility of parole.

The three co-defendants are Sonny Babauta, Fiden Hamo, and Petrus Anastacio.

Babauta went to trial and was convicted by the jury. He appealed his conviction. The appeal is still pending in the Supreme Court.

Hamo pleaded guilty in the burglary case and also in a rock-throwing incident. He was slapped with a five-year jail term.

Anastacio’s charge of accessory after the fact to burglary was dismissed during the trial.

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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