Former CNMI Governor Reportedly To Enter Plea Agreement

admin's picture

Fitial, in Philippines for health reason, looks to avoid criminal trial

By Ferdie De La Torre

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, April 23, 2015) – Former governor Benigno R. Fitial has agreed to enter a plea agreement with the government to resolve the criminal case against him without going to trial.

In an order on Tuesday, Superior Court Associate Judge David A. Wiseman set Fitial’s case for a change of plea hearing on May 6, 2015, at 1:30pm.

This developed after special prosecutor George Hasselback, as counsel for the CNMI government, and Fitial’s counsel, Stephen Nutting, appeared for an in-chamber conference with Wiseman on Tuesday.

Wiseman said the change of plea hearing, however, will be subject to the court being satisfied that the technology can allow for a change of plea by international communication through Skype.

Fitial is reportedly in the Philippines for medical rehabilitation.

The judge ordered Fitial’s counsel, Nutting, and special prosecutor Hasselback to appear at the hearing date.

Wiseman vacated the trial setting conference scheduled for April 29, 2015.

Nutting and Hasselback have been negotiating to resolve the matter through non-trial disposition since last February.

Hasselback told Saipan Tribune yesterday that nothing has been signed yet as they are still finalizing the plea agreement.

If the plea agreement is signed, Hasselback said, it will then be filed in court.

The remaining charges against Fitial refer to alleged criminal activity associated with the police escort provided former attorney general Edward T. Buckingham in August 2012 that shielded him from being served with penal summons.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment