Prosecution to study man being sentenced in different fed court


Assistant U.S. attorney Garth Backe is considering a psychologist’s recommendation to explore the possibility of sentencing in another federal court a habitual offender who stole a gun of a local judge and was found mentally incompetent to proceed with the sentencing.

At a status conference last Thursday, Backe, who is counsel for the U.S. government, said they are going to check what the process is in sentencing Cling Philip Kaipat in another district court.

Kaipat is currently in a medical center in the U.S. mainland.

U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona set another status conference for Nov. 13, 2019 at 1:30pm.

According to the minutes of the hearing, Manglona agreed with Backe’s suggestion that psychologist Ashley Christiansen be provided with a copy of Kaipat’s plea agreement and the change of plea minute entry.

Manglona informed the parties that U.S. probation officer Gregory Arriola and U.S. marshal Don Hall are to work together to secure therapy sessions for Kaipat upon his release after sentencing.

Christiansen informed the court that Kaipat is unable to participate in Thursday’s status conference. He said it will take advance notice in order for Kaipat to appear telephonically or via video conferencing.

Kaipat’s counsel, Colin Thompson, raised concerns about Kaipat traveling from the U.S. mainland to Saipan and his medications.

Hall said their office could accommodate Kaipat but cannot provide him with medicines and therapy.

Christiansen then provided a proposed plan as to when the medications will be administered before and after Kaipat travels.

Last March, the federal court ordered additional 120 days of treatment and evaluation for Kaipat at the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in the U.S. mainland.

Manglona initially found Kaipat mentally incompetent to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him or to assist properly in his defense on Oct. 19, 2016.

Kaipat was committed to MCFP on Jan. 23, 2017. On May 19, 2017, MCFP issued a certificate of competency, establishing that Kaipat was mentally competent to permit the proceedings to move forward.

In April 2018, Manglona ordered another psychiatric or psychological examination.

Following a competency hearing on Aug. 10, 2018, Manglona, for a second time, found the defendant presently mentally incompetent. The judge then committed him to the custody of the U.S. Attorney General for hospitalization and treatment.

In November 2017, Kaipat pleaded guilty in federal court to possession of a stolen firearm.

According to the factual basis of the plea agreement, on Nov. 5, 2015, Kaipat possessed a stolen a 9mm Smith and Wesson pistol. Kaipat knew the pistol was stolen because he stole it while burglarizing Superior Court Associate Judge Kenneth Govendo’s home on Saipan.

In that burglary, he also stole a watch, a hunting knife, and $500 in U.S. currency. Govendo was off-island when the burglary happened.

In the Superior Court case, Kaipat also pleaded guilty to burglary and theft as part of a plea deal. In November 2016, Superior Court Associate Judge Teresa Kim-Tenorio sentenced him to six years in prison.

The six-year prison sentence, however, will run concurrently with the sentence in Kaipat’s conviction in federal court’s case. It means that he will serve the six years in prison within whatever prison term the district court will impose on him.

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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