Suspended sentence in lawmaker’s guilty plea

House floor leader John Paul Sablan says he was trying to avoid another vehicle

House floor leader Rep. John Paul Sablan (R-Saipan) pleaded guilty Wednesday to reckless driving and was sentenced to six months in prison, all suspended.

Superior Court Associate Judge Kenneth L. Govendo also placed Sablan on one year of probation and ordered him to perform 40 hours of community service, attend alcohol information class, and pay $120 in probation fee and $25 in court fee.

Sablan, 39, is barred from consuming any alcoholic beverages during his probation. He was ordered to pay the Department of Public Works $3,859 in restitution for replacing the damaged light post on the Gov. Froilan C. Tenorio Beach Road Pathway.

Sablan’s driver’s license was suspended for 30 days, but he may drive to and from work and for work purposes.

The remaining charges of driving under the influence of alcohol, refusal to submit to a breathalyzer test, making illegal U-turn, and two headlights required in driving, and accident (hitting a lamp post) were dropped.

According to a Department of Public Safety report, Sablan was driving a red Nissan vehicle in the early morning hours of Sept. 30, 2018, when he hit a Beach Road Pathway lamp.

Sablan was brought to the Department of Corrections for booking and detention immediately after, but was later released at 6:30am.

Saipan Tribune learned that the lawmaker was at Joe’s Bar in Garapan that night and even won one of the major prizes in a raffle draw.

Assistant attorney general Robert Glass appeared as counsel for the government.

In an interview yesterday, Sablan said his lawyer, Vincent Torres, was initially working with the Office of the Attorney General on a plea agreement.

Sablan said the initial plea agreement offered by the OAG was that he would plead guilty to DUI and that other charges would be dismissed.

Sablan said that, as he has said in the past, he was not comfortable with pleading guilty to DUI based on the facts on the police report that there is no evidence that he was intoxicated.

The lawmaker said he made a counter-agreement with the OAG and that, on the day prior to his hearing, the OAG finally agreed that he would plead guilty to reckless driving.

Sablan said he decided to plead guilty to reckless driving at the advice of his counsel and it being consistent with his statements to the police.

“There was a vehicle that night that made a sudden stop in front of me. To avoid collision with the vehicle, I had to avoid and recklessly drove to the other lane, and eventually I swerved and hit the lamp post,” he said.

Sablan said he told police that he was indeed at Joe’s Bar at the early part of the night, where he consumed one or two cans of beers. Sablan said he was sober when the accident happened near 2am.

“I’m happy that it’s over and behind me,” said Sablan. He apologized to those who expressed disappointment with what happened. He said this has been very hard for him and his family and that he is happy that this is behind him.

Sablan thanked the police officers that provided service that night.
“They are very professional. I commend DPS and Department of Corrections for taking of the process that night. I always believe in the justice system,” he said.

MD: House floor leader John Paul Sablan pleaded guilty Wednesday to the offense of reckless driving and was sentenced to six months in prison, all suspended.

KW: John Paul Sablan, reckless driving, Judge Kenneth L. Govendo.

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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