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Judge was paid by casino


By Johnnie Rosario



Camacho

(Tumon, Guam) Judge Joseph Norita Camacho was paid $90,000 in casino money to compensate him for a land deal with the law firm of O'Connor, Berman, Dotts, & Banes. Attorney Michael Dotts's transactions with Imperial Pacific International (CNMI), LLC was subpoenaed by a federal grand jury late last year.


Mr. Dotts is named with 29 others in the subpoena list now dubbed the Dirty 30.


The entry on the vendor ledger indicates that the $90,000 payment only is the first of several in a 20-year period. It was entered on October 28, 2015 in a list of vendors with the Commonwealth Casino Commission. The initial $90,000 was the amount for closing costs of a 20-year land lease from Mr. Camacho.


Mr. Camacho is married to Viola Alepuyo, the casino's vice president of legal affairs. Ms. Alepuyo is third on the Dirty 30 list.


Land transactions are at the center of the federal grand jury subpoena and are thought to be the conduit through which local money laundering is accomplished.



Aside from the conflict of interest that exists because of Mr. Camacho's marriage to Ms. Alepuyo, he is a trial court judge bound by a code of conduct and ethics that prohibits business dealings that conflict with his duties.


Mr. Camacho has presided over several trials involving the casino industry, including a taxpayer lawsuit against the Rota casino in 2014. He also has presided over several trials involving land disputes.


Mr. Camacho's ties to the casino and the embattled Torres administration run deeper than his marriage, though. His eldest brother is census boss and former Commissioner of Fire and Emergency Management Services Clyde Norita. Mr. Norita last year received a large illegal overtime payment in the amount of $26,890.14. Their younger brother is Anthony Camacho, the director of technical services at the Department of Public Works under the Torres administration. The younger Camacho also was paid illegally in overtime to the tune of $25,212.13.


Mr. Camacho's first cousin is Serafin Camacho, who was involved in a massive $4 million land transaction with the casino and whose son, Congressman Joel Camacho, is the head of the legislative committee with oversight of the Commonwealth's courts. Serafin Camacho also is listed in the Dirty 30.

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Judge Camacho was and is surprisingly competent, thoughtful, and fair.


Surprisingly because it was a mere decade ago that he was Fitial's attack pup against Kilili, and ran a congressional campaign on a promise of violating federal law (ethnic quotas).


He served honorably and didn't do favors for the connected.


The land deals don't look good, but nobody is perfect, and if he resigned, who'd replace him?


Most competent lawyers prefer the 10x higher income of private practice, or the prestige of federal government work.


There'd be a large pool of interested applicants for the seat (the less successful lawyers, those rejected for federal positions, anyone with a law degree and not much going on), but each of them would…

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Phillip Inos
Phillip Inos
Jan 03, 2020

Finally "hammer Joe" swung his gavel too hard that he missed n hit his own face. On Numerous occasions I have witnessed "hammer Joe" judge people who are still innocent before proven guilty. Even if you have valid grounds to recuse him your attorney dares not. He is by far the most impartial judge ever in the CNMI. For a judge to even be mentioned in such controversy is a disgrace to the judicial system as a whole. If he really was an "honorable " judge he would step down until all this controversy blows over. Besides he already has guaranteed money waiting for him that the break from "work" shouldn't affect the size of his wallet.

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I agree with concerned citizen. The whole casino debacle began with a secret junket to Hong Kong and Macao.


Then a bill was drafted, pulled back and revised, and was signed by Gov. Inos after hours.


At this point many of us smelled a bunch of rats, but were powerless to do anything.


Meanwhile the people, who opposed to a casino with a petition were shut out.


So here we are, with an unwanted monstrosity in Garapan, up to their Chinese necks in controversy.


Thank goodness the FBI staged a major sweep which will probably result in arrests and convictions.


Thank goodness also for Kandit News for exposing the rats on the take. Why the Saipan newspapers won't cover these…


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Concerned Citizen
Concerned Citizen
Jan 03, 2020

If this is true, this casino has corrupted or tainted the lives of some of the most powerful people on this island. Shameful!

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28 U.S. Code § 455. Disqualification of justice, judge, or magistrate judge

(a) Any justice, judge, or magistrate judge of the United States shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.

(b) He shall also disqualify himself in the following circumstances: (1) Where he has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party, or personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceeding; (2) Where in private practice he served as lawyer in the matter in controversy, or a lawyer with whom he previously practiced law served during such association as a lawyer concerning the matter, or the judge or such lawyer has been a material witness concerning it; (3) Where …

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