Man Who Terrorized CNMI's Pagan Island Sentenced To 382-Day Prison Term

Castro set fire to fuel tanks, shot at satellite dish, damaged a vehicle and broke into Northern Islands mayor's house in 2016

By Ferdie De La Torre

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, July 13, 2017) – Superior Court Presiding Judge Roberto C. Naraja has slapped a 382-day prison term on the man who caused havoc on Pagan by setting fire to helicopter fuel tanks, shooting a radio communication system, breaking into the mayor’s house with a sledgehammer, and damaging a vehicle.

Naraja sentenced Crispin Fitipol Castro, 39, on Tuesday to five years imprisonment, all suspended except for 382 days, for the offenses of reckless burning and criminal mischief.

In a written order yesterday, Naraja said that Castro is to be released from custody tomorrow, Friday, at 4pm, because as of that day he will have served 382 days in custody.

Castro will be placed on supervised probation for five years.

He was ordered to pay restitution to the estate of former Northern Islands mayor Jerome Aldan, the Northern Islands Mayor’s Office, Department of Public Safety, and councilman Diego Kaipat—in an amount to be determined on Oct. 17, 2017.

Castro was required to pay a $100 court assessment fee plus probation fee in an amount to be determined by the Office of Adult Probation, perform 1,000 hours of community service, and write a letter of apology to Linda Kaipat.

During his probation, Castro is prohibited from drinking alcoholic beverages or using controlled substances.

Naraja said that Castro disregarded the welfare and property of others by destroying fuel tanks, which help provide access to Pagan, as well as destroying the windshield of a 1990 Daihatsu Jeep.

Naraja said that Castro’s crimes were committed because of his self-proclaimed dissatisfaction with the Commonwealth’s political system.

“The brazenness of defendant’s conduct is an aggravating factor, which is afforded moderate weight,” the judge pointed out.

He noted that the damage done by Castro was significant and has impacted the ability of the government and others to access Pagan.

“A person can be dissatisfied with the political situation, but resorting to destruction of property is never justified. There is a need to dissuade and deter this kind of conduct,” Naraja said.

The judge said Castro’s conduct occurred in the immediate aftermath of Typhoon Soudelor on Pagan, which is extremely isolated and has limited resources. He said Soudelor caused significant damage on Pagan and threatened the island’s food supply.

Naraja said Castro’s crimes took place during those desperate times.

The judge said the conditions of Pagan and the circumstances at the time are factors with moderate weight.

The fact that Castro and his fellow residents on Pagan were facing adversity does not excuse his crimes, Naraja said.

Castro pleaded guilty last May 2 to reckless burning and criminal mischief as part of a plea deal.

The sentencing hearing was first held last May 31, but Naraja moved it to last Tuesday.

Chief prosecutor Michele Harris had recommended a sentence of two years imprisonment, to be served day for day without the possibility of parole and probation.

Assistant public defender Tillman Clark, counsel for Castro, recommended credit for time served and Castro’s release at the end of the sentencing hearing.

Castro was accused of puncturing the fuel tanks of the U.S. Geological Survey and/or Homeland Security and Emergency Management Office, and setting them on fire, causing them to explode and burn between April 11 and 15, 2016, on Pagan.

He also smashed the front and rear windshields and windows of a 1990 Daihatsu Jeep owned by Francisco L. Kaipat.

Castro damaged the fuel tanks and radio used for communication. Former Northern Islands mayor Aldan and/or Northern Island Mayor’s Office owned the property, according to court documents.

Castro also allegedly damaged the satellite dish and satellite servers of the Homeland Security Emergency Management Office.

Police arrested Castro on Pagan on May 13, 2016.

Saipan Tribune
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