SAIPAN - Special prosecutor James Robert Kingman is proposing 38 additional charges against former Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, to include the initially charged count of contempt, and counts alleging misconduct in public office and perjury pertaining to first-class travel, among others.

Kingman is accusing former Gov. Torres of use of public funds for political or campaign activity, perjuring himself in a declaration for government expenditure, illegal reimbursement, theft by deception, theft of utility services, purposeful release of a captive deer, authorizing special permit for out-of-season collection of coconut crab and misuse of government transport.

As of Thursday, the proposed amended information document hadn't been officially accepted by the CNMI Superior Court and hadn't been stamped and dated by the clerk of court.

In a previous motion, Kingman asked Judge Pro Tempore Arthur Barcinas to allow the prosecution to amend the charges against Ralph Torres.

Kingman also opposes Barcinas’ appointment as judge pro tempore in the case.

As of press time Thursday, it wasn't known whether Barcinas had allowed Kingman to file an amended information.

The former governor’s defense lawyers opposed Kingman’s motion to file an amended information.

According to defense attorneys Viola Alepuyo, Victorino Torres, Matthew Holley and Anthony Aguon, the motion should be denied as the amended information stems from “prosecutorial vindictiveness.”

“Nine days after Mr. Torres challenged the special prosecutor’s pro hac vice admission, the special prosecutor moved to amend the information to add 38 new charges, or about three times the number of charges originally filed,” the defense motion stated. “The motion to amend the information should be denied as it is the product of vindictiveness for Mr. Torres’ exercising his rights by challenging the special prosecutor’s appointment, contract and pro hac vice admission.”

Additionally, denial is appropriate as the 38 new charges are additional and different charges, as well as prejudicial, the defense stated.

“Denial is also necessary given the outstanding uncertainty regarding the special prosecutor’s status. Lastly, all the perjury charges are time barred, the special prosecutor should be disqualified from prosecuting the contempt charge, and the misconduct in public office and theft charges fail to allege an essential element,” the defense added.

On April 8, 2022, the CNMI Office of the Attorney General filed a criminal case against the former governor, alleging 12 counts of misconduct in public office and one count of theft relating to the issuance of airline tickets for business class, first class, or other premium class travel for himself and/or Diann T. Torres, his wife.

The case also alleged one count of contempt for failure to appear in compliance with a legislative subpoena.

The former governor has denied the charges.

After a discussion and with the consent of the parties, Barcinas vacated the jury trial set for June 5, but maintained the date for a conference hearing.