7 Aug 2009

CNMI politician says Villagomez decision marks turning point on corruption

6:39 am on 7 August 2009

A politician in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas says the jail sentence awarded to a former top official marks a turning point for the territory.

Timothy Villagomez, formerly the lieutenant governor, has been sentenced to just over seven years for his part in 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 and a fine of 25,000 dollars and all three were ordered to pay restitution of almost 350,000 dollars.

Tina Sablan, a member of the House of Representatives, says the sentences send a stern warning.

"There has been a long history of people at all levels of government, individuals who make very bad choices for personal interest and few people have been taken to task for it and Mr Villagomez is the highest level official to be taken to task for it and the most widespread sentiment that I've heard from people is that it's about time"

Tina Sablan of CNMI's House of Representatives.