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Saipan Tribune: Ex-NMC official wants theft case dismissed

A former maintenance manager of the Northern Marianas College, who was accused of stealing NMC’s gas last year, asked the Superior Court yesterday to order the Office of Adult Probation to advise the Office of the Attorney General that he has completed all obligations under their diversion program agreement so that his case may be dismissed.

Phillip Aguon Fejeran Jr., though assistant public defender Heather M. Zona, said the Office of Adult Probation “inexplicably refuses” to release him from the diversion program so that his case may be dismissed.

Zona said the OAP asserts it can keep Fejeran in the program for a year even though neither the law nor the diversion agreement support that position.

“Mr. Fejeran has done everything required of him under the agreement,” said Zona, adding that it is time for the OAP to comply with its obligations under the agreement so that Fejeran’s case may be dismissed and he may move on with his life.

In September 2017, Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho suspended the proceedings in the case at the request of the Office of the Attorney General.

Camacho then ordered that the case be taken off-calendar.

In the government’s motion to suspend proceedings, a prosecutor disclosed that Fejeran had been accepted into the Adult Diversion Program under the OAP.

That means if the defendant complies with some conditions in the agreement, the case charging him with one count of theft will be dismissed.

The government alleged that on March 7, 2017, March 10, 2017, May 2, 2017, and May 3, 2017, Fejeran stole gasoline totaling $183 by using NMC’s open fleet card. An Office of the Public Auditor’s investigation into the alleged theft led to Fejeran’s arrest in May 2017. Fejeran pleaded not guilty.

In a motion filed yesterday, Zona said Fejeran was accepted into the Adult Diversion Program in August 2017.

Zona said there is nothing in the agreement that states that Fejeran needs to continue to be supervised by OAP since he has completed all obligations under the agreement.

The lawyer said Fejeran completed all the terms of the agreement prior to February 2018, with the exception of attending OAP’s crime prevention class.

She said Fejeran has had a job since February. As part of his job, he is required to travel.

She said as the OAP still has not scheduled the crime prevention class, Fejeran is still under OAP supervision.

“As a result, the parties entered into a stipulation so that Mr. Fejeran would be able to travel for work purposes,” Zona said.

Ultimately, OAP scheduled the crime prevention class for June 7, 14, 21, and 27, 2018 and Fejeran attended and completed this class.

Zona said though OAG initially stated it would dismiss the case, later it indicated it could not because the OAP claimed Fejeran was required to remain in the program.

“No further information was provided,” she said.

The lawyer said that last July, Fejeran advised OAP that he was planning a family vacation off-island.

She said the OAP told Fejeran he was required to submit to an “evaluation” before OAP would agree to let him attend the family vacation.

Apparently, Zona said, the “evaluation” was a multiple-choice test concerning drug and alcohol use.

Since Fejeran has already completed all requirements of his diversion program on June 27, 2018, forcing him to submit to this “evaluation” was at best improper, Zona said.

Fejeran requested that his case be referred for dismissal, but the OAP refused to do so, asserting it had the authority to keep Fejeran in the program for a year, and possibly two years even though he has complied with all obligations.

Zona asserted that there is nothing in either the Commonwealth Code or the agreement itself which warrants the OAP’s refusal to refer Fejeran’s case for dismissal.

She said Fejeran’s case is not an isolated instance of the OAP’s refusal to comply with the agreement and the statute.

Zona cited that the OAP has taken the same position in another case involving a defendant who has completed all terms of her diversion program.

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