Koror, Palau – On May 28, 2021, the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) filed a Motion for an Order to Show Cause in the Trial Division of the Palau Supreme Court, Criminal Case No. 09-092, requesting the Court to issue an order to show cause as to why Defendant’s non-payment of fines in Criminal Case No. 09-092 should not be treated as contumacious (stubbornly or willfully disobedient to authority).
On November 9, 2009, Defendant was convicted at trial of several ethics counts for knowingly failing to disclose several parcels of property on his Financial Disclosure Statements for 2002 and 2003. Defendant was sentenced on December 21, 2009, to a fine of $156,400.00, the value of property he failed to disclose either by not listing it or undervaluing it. An appeal followed, which appeal was decided on March 30, 2011, ultimately upholding the fine imposed by the Trial Division as proper and not an abuse of discretion.
In reviewing OSP cases with outstanding civil or criminal fines, the OSP discovered Defendant in CR 09-092 paid only $11,150 towards the $156,400 fine owed since 2011. The Republic’s Motion for an Order to Show Cause was answered by Defendant on June 11, 2021, through his attorney, Siegfried Nakamura, who also filed a Motion for Revocation of the Unpaid Portion of the Fine on the same day. The Republic filed a Rebuttal to Defendant’s Response and a Brief in Opposition to Defendant’s Motion for Revocation of Unpaid Portion of the Fine.
It is expected after a summons is issued the Trial Division will hold a hearing on the parties’ motions and responses, ultimately determining several important points of law including (1) whether, in fact, the Defendant’s failure to pay his outstanding fines is contumacious when he failed to appeal the decision of the Appellate Division, had the ability to pay the fine, and made only nominal payments over the past decade, thereby defaulting on his obligation and in violation of 17 PNC § 655; and, (2) whether the Defendant’s original sentence was excessive and, therefore, unconstitutional in violation of Article IV, Section 10 of the ROP Constitution arguing the fine was disproportional to the gravity of the offense.
After all is said and done, the OSP believes the fine imposed in CR 09-092 was appropriate, just, and fair, and wishes to collect the debt on behalf of the Republic as it is doing in other cases of unpaid fines and restitution. In our continuing effort to be transparent, we will be posting the pleadings of both parties to our website as we believe the points contained in the pleadings and ultimate rulings of the Court on those pleadings will have an impact on the citizens of the Republic. Once set, we will publish any upcoming hearing date.
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