6 Aug 2009

Jail awaits CNMI's Villagomez for fraud

12:52 pm on 6 August 2009

A former top official in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas has been sentenced to more than seven years in prison for his part in defrauding a public company.

Timothy Villagomez was the territory's lieutenant governor until the Federal Court found him guilty in April of defrauding the Commonwealth Utilities Corporation of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

His accomplices, the former Commerce Secretary James Santos and his wife Joaquina Santos, each received sentences of six and a half years.

They were also both fined 25,000 US dollars and the trio ordered to pay almost 350,000 thousand dollars in restitution.

Our CNMI correspondent, Mark Rabago, says Villagomez had been hoping for probation and house arrest.

"The judge said the discrepancy, a year discrepancy in sentencing, is because Mr Villagomez betrayed the public trust. The people here voted him for lieutenant governor and the least that they could get is the governor to be honest and forthright and not dealing with this kind of stuff."

Mark Rabago says the three are on bail until the judge decides where to imprison them.