Northern Marianas governor facing corruption charges

Northern Marianas governor facing corruption charges

11 Apr 2022  (RNZ)

The Office of the Attorney General in the Northern Marianas has filed a criminal case against the Governor, Ralph Torres.

It has alleged 12 counts of misconduct in public office and one count of theft relating to the issuance of airline tickets for business class, first class, or other premium class travel for himself and/or Diann T. Torres

The case also alleges one count of contempt for failure to appear in compliance with a subpoena.

“The charges follow months of thorough investigation by the Office of the Attorney General Investigator Division,” said Attorney General Edward Manibusan.

“The next steps in the process will be to have Governor Torres arraigned and allow the case to proceed in accordance with the criminal justice system. As this is now an active case, neither I, nor my office, can provide further comments,” he said.

Last January, the Democratic Party-controlled House of Representatives approved six articles of impeachment against Torres, making him the second governor in CNMI history to be impeached.

With 15 “yes” votes, four “no” votes, and one abstention, the House passed the House Resolution 22-14 on January 12, impeaching Torres for alleged commission of felonies, corruption, and neglect of duty, in violation of Article III, Section 19 of the CNMI Constitution.

With the same votes, the House adopted the House resolution that has six articles of impeachment charging the governor with committing felony of theft of utility services, committing felony theft, corruption for unlawful first-class and business-class travel, corruption for misuse of government resources, neglect of duty for negligence during crisis, and neglect of duty for contempt of the Legislature.

However, Torres’ impeachment trial is still pending, as the House and the Senate still can’t agree on the number of prosecutors who will try the governor at the Senate.

The House insists that it needs a team of five House members to serve as prosecutors but Senate President Jude A. Hofschneider said he already appointed Rep. Corina Magofna as prosecutor.