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Receipt reveals fraud

By Johnnie Rosario

(Tumon, Guam) Revelations of Gov. Ralph Torres's plunder of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands are getting worse. A closer look at one of the receipts he turned in and for which he was reimbursed $298 shows in black and white it wasn't even his receipt.

Mr. Torres turned in a receipt for reimbursement that came from MegaByte Computer Services and Sales Center in Tamuning, Guam. The receipt shows the March 28 purchase of two HP #312A Black Toner ink cartridges at a total $298.

Unlike the other receipts he has turned in for reimbursement, this MegaByte receipt indicates who the items were sold to: SD Travel Service, not Ralph Torres, or the CNMI.

Yet, the CNMI paid Mr. Torres for this purchase that he didn't even make. He turned in the receipts to Lt. Gov. Arnold Palacios, who on April 9 this year submitted this along with other receipts to acting finance secretary David Atalig, Jr. for reimbursement to the governor. Mr. Atalig approved the request three days later.

This is fraud. All of them defrauded the government of the Commonwealth and its residents.

The phone number listed for the purchaser is 988-7041, which belongs to Skydrenaline Zone, a Guam-based parachuting flight company.

How the governor got the receipt is a mystery, but this incident does raise some questions considering that this receipt is unique in that it lists a purchaser. This is the only reason we were able to catch that he was reimbursed for something he did not actually buy.

The other receipts the governor has been reimbursed for do not list the purchasers, raising the question: 'Did the CNMI reimburse the governor for other things he claimed but did not actually purchase?'

How can the taxpayers be sure the governor did not pick receipts off the ground and turn them into the Department of Finance for reimbursement just to make money from the reimbursements, which now total in the tens of thousands?

How do the taxpayers know whether the governor walked back into the WalMarts, BestBuys, and other stores where he purchased all those expensive cameras, headsets, earphones, and Cheetos, and refunded the items? Is there an inventory of the items he bought anywhere?

These are the questions the GOP-led CNMI House of Representatives should be asking in an impeachment inquiry, though one has yet to start.

CNMI Congresswoman Tina Sablan told Kandit this week that she believes there is enough probable cause from the FBI raids and warrants that reveal the governor and his family are the targets of a massive public corruption investigation to open such an inquiry. She is the only member of the CNMI Legislature to have taken such a stance so far.

Meanwhile, some of the receipts show that even the CNMI Senate President and senators were in on the plunder, wining and dining with the governor at expensive restaurants at the expense of taxpayers.

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