Notorious thief gets 2 years in prison for 2 burglary, theft cases


Johnny Basiente John, a notorious thief in Garapan, has entered a guilty plea to a burglary and theft cases, and slapped with a two-year prison term.

John, 29, signed a plea deal with the government and pleaded guilty on Tuesday to the offenses of theft, and assault and battery in the 2015 and 2016 cases, respectively.

Superior Court Associate Judge Teresa Kim-Tenorio accepted the plea deal and sentenced John to a total of two years.

The defendant was given credit for 180 days. He was remanded to the Department of Corrections. His release date is Dec. 23, 2017.

After serving the prison term, the defendant will be placed on supervised probation for five years. During the probationary period, he will be required to pay $7,000 in restitution to the victim, Zheng Hua.

John was ordered to pay a $100 fine, $500 in probation fee, and $100 in court assessment fee. He was required to perform 100 hours of community work service and complete any recommended counseling by the Community Guidance Center.

John was ordered to write a letter of apology to victims Zheng Hua and Guiming Zheng.

According to the factual basis of the plea agreement, John stole a wallet containing $7,000 cash, identification cards, bank cards, and documents belonging to Hua in Garapan, Saipan on April 14, 2015.

John also unlawfully struck Mr. Zheng with a rock, causing a scratch on his finger in Garapan on Jan. 3, 2016.

As part of the plea deal, the government moved to dismiss the remaining charges in the 2015 case. The court granted the motion.

Acting chief prosecutor Barbara Cepeda appeared for the government. Richard Pierce is the court-appointed counsel for John.

In the 2016 case, police officer John Cabrera chased and arrested John, who ran away after burglarizing New Double Luck Restaurant in Garapan and trying to hit the owner, Zheng, with a rock.

Cabrera found John hiding under a tree covered with heavy vines and bushes near YP Apartment in Garapan.

In the 2015 case, police arrested John for stealing Miss Hua’s wallet containing $7,000 and other items and threatened her with a knife at Body Works Massage in Garapan on April 14, 2015.

Detective Catherine B. Pangelinan identified John as the culprit after reviewing the footage of a surveillance camera.

During follow-up operation, police subsequently found John and recovered from him the victim’s identification cards and bank cards, and a stolen bicycle.

According to court documents, John has previous criminal convictions, mostly burglary and theft when he was still a juvenile.

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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