Wiseman sets Nov. 24 jury trial for Ogumoro, Kosam, Rebuenog


Superior Court Associate Judge David A. Wiseman has set for Nov. 24, 2014, the jury trial of former Department of Public Safety deputy commissioner Ambrosio T. Ogumoro, former Commonwealth Ports Authority police chief Jordan L. Kosam, and former CPA police captain John T. Rebuenog.

Wiseman ordered Ogumoro, Kosam and Rebuenog to appear at a status conference on Nov. 5, 2014 at 1:30pm.

The judge said if the three defendants will not show up at the hearing, a bench warrant will be issued for their arrest.

At a trial setting conference on Wednesday, Ogumoro appeared with his counsel, Edward T. Arriola. Kosam and Rebuenog appeared with their respective counsels, Joaquin Torres and Colin Thompson. OPA legal counsel George L. Hasselback represented the CNMI government in the case.

Thompson informed the court that an indigency assessment is undergoing by the Office of Adult Probation. Thompson requested that should Rebuenog be found indigent that he be appointed counsel. Wiseman granted the request.

In the meantime, Wiseman said Thompson is appointed as counsel for Rebuenog pending a final report on defendant’s indigence.

The Office of the Public Auditor charged Ogumoro, Kosam, and Rebuenog along with former Governor Benigno R. Fitial and Fitial’s former personal driver and bodyguard Jermaine Joseph W. Nekaifes for their role in, among other things, shielding then attorney general Edward T. Buckingham from being served with penal summons in August 2012.

OPA filed 15 criminal charges each against Ogumoro and Kosam, and 13 charges against Rebuenog.

On Feb. 25, 2014, Superior Court Associate Judge Kenneth L. Govendo dismissed without prejudice the case against Nekaifes at Hasselback’s request.

Dismissed without prejudice means the plaintiff is allowed to re-open the case in the future.

Hasselback agreed to dismiss the case against Nekaifes as part of the government’s deal for the former police captain to testify against Buckingham.

During Buckingham’s trial, Nekaifes testified that Fitial instructed him not to allow the Federal Bureau of Investigation agents from approaching and serving a penal summons to Buckingham at the Saipan International Airport on Aug. 4, 2012.

Nekaifes also stated that he believes that part of the purpose of escorting Buckingham and his wife to the airport was to prevent OPA from preserving the penal summons.

On May 1, 2014, OPA filed a complaint charging Fitial with 10 various criminal charges. OPA later amended the information to include three more charges.

The charges are related to the unauthorized release of a federal inmate, award of a sole-source American Recovery and Reinvestment Act contract, shielding of Buckingham from being served with penal summons, and the execution of a power purchase agreement contract related to the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. Fitial, 68, pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Last Feb. 19, Superior Court Associate Judge Kenneth L. Govendo found Buckingham guilty of all public corruption charges except one and sentenced him to 3.5 years in prison, all suspended.

Govendo also ordered the 65-year-old Buckingham to pay a $14,000 fine and placed him on unsupervised probation for 3.5 years.

Govendo recused from presiding over the cases against the remaining defendants.

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 ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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