KOROR, PALAU – On Monday, November 7, 2022, former Ngiwal State Governor, Ellender Ngirameketii, was resentenced by Presiding Justice Kathleen M. Salii.
Defendant Ngirameketii was previously convicted of six felony counts of Misconduct in Public Office by Unsworn Falsification to Authorities, six misdemeanor Ethics Code violations for failure to properly report his income, and six misdemeanor Social Security Act violations for failure to pay social security contributions on behalf of his employees. Defendant previously received a sentence of 6 years probation, 18 months imprisonment suspended, and fines totaling $674,658. Defendant only claimed $14,000 in earnings instead of the $1.3 million he earned from his Okal Security Agency business providing security services to the Capitol Complex in Melekeok. His convictions and sentence were appealed.
On appeal, Ngirameketii’s convictions were affirmed. However, the Appellate Court found the $665,658 fine imposed for his six misdemeanor convictions was “constitutionally excessive” under the Code of Ethics provision that allowed for up to three times the amount unreported under 33 PNC § 611(a). In its Opinion, the Appellate Court advised the “lower courts to reserve fines of more than $25,000 per count for only the most egregious violations.”
The Appellate Court further stated that “[w]hile $25,000 is significantly greater than the maximum fine of $10,000 for other Code of Ethics violations, the OEK signaled that it considered failure to report to be a potentially more egregious offense by supplying a separate monetary penalty for it. Bearing in mind the inherent imprecision at play in this area of the law, a presumptive fine that is 2.5 times greater for failure to report pays deference to that policy decision while also keeping the maximum fine on the right side of the constitutional limit.”
The Trial Division resentenced Ngirameketii to 6 years of probation, 18 months of imprisonment suspended, and total fines of $96,000. The fines will be paid immediately in a lump sum from Defendant’s funds on account with the Clerk or Courts, with any residual funds released back to Ngirameketii. The Court removed a previously imposed condition requiring Defendant not seek employment or public office with Ngiwal State thereby leaving the decision to employ or elect Ngirameketii with the people of Ngiwal State.
Related documents available for download: