Former AG convicted of public corruption

Focus now shifts to former gov’s extradition

In yet another “first” for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and buoyed by a multi-year movement to rid the government of corruption, former attorney-general Edward Taylor Buckingham III was found guilty on Feb. 19, 2014 of seven of eight public corruption charges against him. These charges are in connection with Buckingham’s hosting of a political candidate’s campaign gathering in 2010, use of police and ports police escorts to evade serving of penal summons in 2012 as he was about to leave the CNMI, and use of government lawyers in his criminal case while he was already outside the Commonwealth.

Not only is 56-yearold Buckingham the first former CNMI attorneygeneral to stand trial for criminal charges, but also the first one to be convicted and sentenced. He was previously declared a fugitive from justice for leaving the CNMI despite criminal summons served on him in 2012, and was the subject of two extradition requests in 2013. The extradition requests were addressed to the governors of Iowa and Colorado in the United States.

He’s also the first former CNMI attorneygeneral to go through these processes. Buckingham voluntarily returned to the CNMI in May 2013, and the fugitive status was cured. He went back to Colorado within days and returned to the CNMI only for his February 2014 trial. “It’s a lesson for all government officials that no one is above the law, regardless of who you are and what you are. We live in a society governed by the rule of law,” said Representative Janet Maratita (Ind-Saipan), within hours of Buckingham’s conviction.

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