The defense in the criminal case against Gov. Ralph DLG Torres argues that no legitimate reasons have been given to file criminal charges solely against Torres when other government officials have also travelled first class.
In response to the Office of the Attorney General’s opposition to Torres’ motion to dismiss the criminal case against him on the grounds of selective and vindictive prosecution, Torres’ lawyers argue that the prosecution has not provided legitimate reasons to as to why only Torres is facing criminal charges while other government officials are not.
Torres is represented by attorneys Viola Alepuyo, Victorino Torres, Matthew Holley, and Anthony Aguon.
“The prosecution does not submit any statement under oath setting forth any explanation for why no other governmental official has been charged with an alleged violation of 1 CMC § 7407, or setting forth the reason why a criminal case was filed against Gov. Torres rather than pursuing the remedy of a civil money penalty, or why the prosecution did not file any charges within two years of knowing of the facts upon which Counts 1-13 are based. Similarly, the prosecution fails to proffer any legitimate reason(s) for bringing a criminal action only against Gov. Torres and no other government officials,” the motion stated.
Torres’ lawyers said the record from a previous evidentiary hearing, where Attorney General Ed Manibusan was called to the stand, shows that numerous other government officials have travelled on an airline ticket issued for travel in a class other than regular economy fare.
“Yet, the prosecution has not brought criminal charges against any other governmental official other than Gov. Torres. Noticeably, the prosecution does not submit any statement under oath or point to any other government official that is or has been subject to criminal prosecution,” the lawyers said.
In addition, the defense argues the prosecution in this case concedes that the OAG, under the direction of Manibusan, published its own travel regulation in 2016 allowing the attorney general, assistant attorneys general, and other employees to travel first class for travel over five hours.
“This would automatically authorize government employees to cause to issue first class tickets in order to comply with its own travel regulation,” the motion said.
Lastly, during the previous evidentiary hearing in this case, Torres’ lawyers said Manibusan himself conceded that this policy is still in place and has not been amended.
“The court must make a finding that Gov. Torres was selectively targeted as early as December 2019; that AG Manibusan did not want to investigate others who engaged in similar conduct. Others, including AG Manibusan, have engaged in similar conduct. Accordingly, this court must make those findings since they were unopposed,” they said in the motion.
In response to the prosecution’s claims that Torres cannot show other situated persons not being prosecuted under the same violations he is currently being tried for, Torres’ attorneys claim the statement is incorrect.
“For selective prosecution purposes, a ‘similarly situated’ person is one who: engaged in the same type of conduct, which means that the comparator committed the same basic crime in substantially the same manner as the defendant. Gov. Torres stands alone in this prosecution while numerous others similarly situated go uncharged,” the lawyers argue.