OAG wants to add 1 more charge vs cop

DUI officer was involved in car accident

The Office of the Attorney General wants to add one more traffic charge against a police officer who crashed his car while allegedly intoxicated, resulting in serious injuries sustained by his girlfriend.

Assistant attorney general J. Robert Glass Jr., counsel for the government, has requested the Superior Court to amend the information filed against Dixon Kwon to add one count of fleeing the scene of an accident.

OAG filed the first amended information last Dec. 5, charging Kwon with six traffic charges—driving while under the influence of alcohol with a Blood Alcohol Concentration of .08 or more; driving while under the influence of alcohol; reckless driving; fleeing the scene of an accident; failure to have motor vehicle liability insurance while operating a vehicle on a public highway; and failure to have motor vehicle insurance in possession while operating a vehicle on a public highway.

Kwon, through counsel Charity Hodson, has opposed OAG’s request.

Hodson said the court should deny OAG’s request at this time because it has failed to provide the information needed not only for Kwon to properly respond to the motion, but also because the court lacks the information required by such a motion to even consider it.

“Even if the Commonwealth provides the required information before the hearing date of this motion, Mr. Kwon will have lost his opportunity to timely and effectively respond,” Hodson said.

In the government’s request, Glass said the Commonwealth Rules of Criminal Procedure permits an information to be amended at any time before verdict or finding if no additional or different offense is charged and if substantial rights of the defendant are not prejudiced.

In this case, Glass said, the Commonwealth asserts that amendment of the information does not include a new offense, but merely clarifies the two different ways in which the illegal conduct is alleged to have occurred.

In addition, Glass said, the proposed amendment does not necessitate additional discovery.

He said discovery has been tendered to Kwon and no trial date is yet set.

Thus, the prosecutor said, the Commonwealth contends that this amendment will neither unduly prejudice Kwon nor compromise these proceedings.

According to Glass, on July 22, 2017 on Saipan, Kwon, while under the influence of alcohol, drove his vehicle into a tree causing injury to Deedra Santos.

Kwon allegedly failed to stop at the scene of the accident.

Glass said Kwon failed to provide reasonable medical assistance to the injured Santos.

Last Sept. 17, Superior Court Associate Judge Wesley Bogdan dismissed without prejudice the case against Kwon as no original traffic citation was filed with the court.

Dismiss without prejudice means the government may re-file the case in the future.

The traffic citation was issued against Kwon last July 23.

Then-Department of Public Safety spokesman Jason Tarkong stated that Kwon was driving his Nissan car when the vehicle ran off the road on As Gonno Highway and hit a tree near the Coral Ocean Point Golf Resort.

When officers arrived, Tarkong said, Kwon was not at the scene, but the injured female passenger, Santos, was there.

Kwon was later found walking near the area, apparently to get help.

Last November, DPS Commissioner Robert Guerrero disclosed that Kwon is back on regular duty as he’s already gone through the administrative process.

The following month, Dec. 15, OAG re-filed the case against Kwon.

As of press time, Saipan Tribune was still waiting for a statement from DPS whether Kwon is back on duty or not considering the re-filing of charges. Kwon was an off-duty DUI officer for DPS at the time of the accident.

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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