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By Gina Tabonares

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Feb. 4, 2008) – The former assistant general manager of the Guam Mass Transit Authority (GMTA) who was convicted of illegal use of a government-issued credit card three years ago wants a reduction of his 5-year imprisonment sentence.

Tony Diaz filed a motion to reduce sentence before Superior Court Judge Steven Unpingco after the Supreme Court of Guam sustained his conviction.

It's been three years since a trial court jury found him guilty on one count of theft of property, a second degree felony, one count of theft of property as a misdemeanor and 23 counts of official misconduct.

The 58-year-old former GovGuam official who was also ordered to serve 1,000 hours of community service and surrender himself on May 5, 2005 remains free on bail and has not served his sentence.

His counsel Randy Cunliffe is asking the court to reduce his client's jail time and place Diaz on probation saying that "while this is a drastic modification, Diaz deserves such a reduction."

Diaz was charged of 23 counts of official misconduct in connection with his purchase of airline tickets to San Francisco, a computer for his daughter and other personal expenses using the credit card issued by the GMTA.

Atty. Cunliffe explained that Diaz attempted to obtain money from his retirement account to pay the credit card charges. He said this is evidence that Diaz did not intend to deprive the government of its money and always had the intent to repay the charges.

He added that Diaz and the government attempted to reach certain plea negotiations with regard to the official misconduct charges, but former Attorney General Douglas Moylan did not agree to any of the matters which counsels were able to reach since the pleas to the theft charges were not included.

Cunliffe further explained that his client's assistance to the government with regard to the co-actor in the theft case, Tony Martinez, had been instrumental in the prosecution that resulted in Diaz' superior pleading guilty.

Assistant Attorney General William Bischoff, however, said that Diaz had a $25,000 deposit into his account on August 18, 2000, evidence that belied the defendant's earlier statement that he just did not have money available to pay.

Bischoff added that during sentencing, the government recommended that Diaz receive something less than five years, although the government did not recommend exactly how much less.

"The government will not recede from that position simply because the defendant has filed a sentence reduction motion that is more harmful than helpful. But not much at all of a reduction is warranted," Bischoff stated in his opposition.

Judge Unpingco will hear the motion of reduction of sentence on Feb. 6 at 2:30 p.m.

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