Proposed agreement recommends only $50 fine, no prison term, wiping of criminal record
Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho has found too lenient a proposed plea agreement that recommends a sentence of a mere $50 fine and no prison term for former Rota Department of Community and Cultural Affairs resident director Josepha Barcinas Manglona.
“This plea agreement is so lenient by analogy the court can only characterize the terms as having a bark of a Chihuahua but lacks the bite of a Rottweiler,” said Camacho in rejecting the proposed plea deal entered by Manglona and white collar/public corruption prosecutor Matthew Baisley.
Camacho noted that Manglona is facing five charges and a possible consecutive sentence of 12 years and six months.
The judge said the jury trial on Rota on Oct. 13, 2015, shall proceed.
Camacho said the parties may submit another proposed plea agreement.
“Notwithstanding the court’s rejection of this plea agreement, the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law,” Camacho added.
The Office of the Attorney General charged the 53-year-old Manglona with conspiracy to commit theft by unlawful taking or disposition, theft by unlawful taking or disposition, two counts of misconduct in public office, and a count of removal of government property.
Members of the CNMI Public Corruption and White Collar Crimes Task Force arrested then-DCCA resident director Manglona on Rota last April 16 on charges that stemmed from April 13, 2013, when, as then-director of Aging Center, she took a $1,000 pool table from the center and traded it with Leo Mereb in exchange for concrete hollow blocks to build her kitchen.
Manglona and her lawyer, Timothy Bellas, signed a plea deal with the government. Under the proposed deal, Manglona would plead guilty to removal of government property.
The deal recommends only that Manglona pay a $50 fine, no jail time, and that her record would be wiped of any criminal record.
Camacho said plea deal fails to address any of the four goals of sentencing: rehabilitation, deterrence, retribution, and incapacitation.
Considering that Manglona allegedly used her position as then-Rota director of Aging to enrich herself, a $50 fine has no rehabilitative effect, Camacho said.
A $50 fine, the judge pointed out, also fails to have any deterrence or retribution effect.
Camacho said imposing no jail time also has no rehabilitative, deterrence, retribution, or incapacitation effect.
He said the proposed plea agreement is pursuant to 6 CMC 4113, which means that the defendant’s criminal record will be wiped clean.
“The jail sentence and other terms under the proposed plea agreement fail to conform to the standards of this court and the CNMI community,” he said.
It is alleged that at the time of the offenses, Manglona was the director of Office of Aging, which provides services to the CNMI’s elderly.
The allegations are that Manglona used her position to enrich herself by trading a publicly owned property (pool table) in exchange for hollow blocks to build her house.
The pool table was being used at the senior citizen center (Aging Center).
Camacho said the Legislature has mandated and recognized that the elderly are a special group deserving respect and protection.
“This court is duty bound to follow that mandate,” Camacho said.