6 Aug 2009

CNMI judge says fraudster decision takes everything into consideration

5:08 pm on 6 August 2009

A lawyer in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas says the judge who passed sentence on fraudulent former top officials took everything into consideration.

The territory's former lieutenant governor, Timothy Villagomez, was sentenced to just over seven years in jail 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 US dollars.

All three were ordered to pay restitution of almost 350,000 dollars.

Timothy Bellas, who sometimes sits on the Supreme Court, says the judge followed federal guidelines.

"I think most people believe that this was a matter that there was some sort of message to the community and so incarceration was going to be imposed, it was just a matter of how long and I think the judge took everything into consideration, I don't think that he sentenced the maximum amount that he could have sentenced and I think he imposed something that was greater than the minimum as well."

Timothy Bellas in the CNMI.