"...the governor will not recommend the judge because she signed his search warrants." - Congressman Gregorio "Kilili" Sablan
By Johnnie Rosario
Gov. Ralph Torres (R-CNMI) told Lt. Gov. Arnold Palacios he refuses to recommend federal Judge Ramona Manglona to continue on the U.S. District Court of the NMI bench because she signed the search warrants upon his home and office. This is according to conversations between Mr. Palacios and Congressman Gregorio "Kilili" Sablan.
Ms. Manglona in November 2019 signed search warrants allowing the Federal Bureau of Investigation to search Mr. Torres's home and the Governor's Office, along with offices of the Chinese-owned casino operator, Imperial Pacific International (CNMI), LLC. The warrants were based on evidence and probable cause presented by the FBI that fruits of crimes existed at the locations to be searched.
One warrant and receipts revealed the FBI seized evidence of money laundering, fraud, and corruption related to Governor Torres, all of his brothers and all of their wives – except for one.
The investigators seized documents pertaining to their income, houses, vehicles, boats, land transactions, art work, jewelry and even travel.
The FBI seized from Imperial Pacific main offices hundreds of boxes of documents relating to receipts, payments, contractors, corporate structure, payments to the Torres brothers, some wives and business affiliates.
It was Ms. Manglona's signature that made those seizures all possible; and Mr. Torres hasn't forgotten it. He made sure to send that message through his lieutenant governor to the CNMI's delegate to Congress.
Here is what Mr. Sablan told Kandit News:
"So, during the Biden Administration, and since I knew that Chief Judge Manglona's term ends by summer of this year, I spoke with her and asked her if she would be willing to continue her service to the Court. She said, 'yes.' And so I decided that I will recommend her name to the Biden Administration, just as I did in the Obama Administration. But I thought I would ask the governor if he wanted to join me in recommending the Judge.
"I went through an emissary that was close to the governor. After two weeks, and no response, I decided to go through a second emissary, the lieutenant governor. He was, then, in Arizona for medical reasons, but we connected and I asked him if he would ask the governor if he would be willing to join me in recommending the judge. The lieutenant governor agreed to ask and get back to me. After a few days, I called the lieutenant governor again and asked him if he got word back from the governor. He said 'yes,' he did. And he was sorry that the governor will not recommend the judge because she signed his search warrants. This is what the lieutenant governor told me. So I submitted the Chief Judge's name for consideration for the President's nomination for another term as Chief Judge."