Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Long Arm of the Law

So Joey Arriola has been apprehended, at last.

This is good news, if you want to see all responsible parties face the music for the missing money from the Kaipat estate. I'm not sure whether it was Luis or Joey or Luis & Joey together who took the money, but they were both fiduciaries with a responsibility to protect the funds for all of the heirs. And they obviously didn't do that, as more than half a million dollars is reportedly missing.

I understand from the last trial, which ended in a hung jury, that Luis' defense is that he is a poor, stupid guy who relied on his lawyer and it is all the lawyer's fault. I think, as a fiduciary with a repsonsibility, this "defense" is insufficient as to the general duty to protect the fund. When he signed on to be administrator, he said he was capable of doing the job, so it's too late to claim ignorance and incompetence now. But I don't know enough about criminal law and the charges against him, or the evidence against him, to know whether he would be criminally guilty. However, I'm certainly glad he's being prosecuted so that the jury can figure that out.

And I'm glad that Joey will now have to face the same tune.

There were a lot of people who were going to share in that pot of money; it's really inexcusable that it went missing and they were robbed of their inheritance.

As for Joey's "capture"--can you imagine! What was he thinking when he went to the US embassy so he could get married in the Philippines?!! How polite of him to invite federal officials into his home when they came knocking, purportedly about his fiance's status.

He must have known that there was a federal criminal indictment out against him. He must have known that his passport had been revoked. He must have known it wasn't a good thing that law enforcement officials were at his door. Perhaps he wanted to be caught?


The Saipan Blogger said...

Yet another example of how marriage can ruin your life!

I saw this on the news last night, but don't know anything of the story.

Anonymous said...

Seems like he does not know about computers. He must also think that the Phil is ignorant and backwards. Also the area he was hiding in is not the ideal place to hide, he should have went to one of the provinces. But not as comfortable and unreliable power.Not much luxury things.
The person that will probably make out on this is his "girl friend", If he had any money stashed, he can not open a bank account in the PI under his name without an Immigration status, so he would most likely have put it in his girl friends name, but large sums cannot be carried either so it would have had to be electronically transferred to an account.Could that be another charge??
Either way he is not a very smart attorney.
Imagine, it is like going to get a police clearance with outstanding warrants.(or renew your drivers license)But in the NMI that would work without detection so can see where his mind is at.

Saipan Writer said...

The story is pretty simple, as I understand it. And this is my understanding--not intended to be the final word or to contradict any testimony at the criminal trial, etc.

Basically the Kaipat estate was opened to probate the estate of a Carolinian woman who allegedly owned land.

The Supreme Court held that her mother owned the land, and that all of the mother's lineage should be included in the heirship of the land.

So more probates were opened for the ancestor and deceased heirs.

The land then generated a big pot of money for a portion of it that had been taken by the government and land compensation paid.

The money was put into an account in the attorney's trust fund--then Tim Bellas. But the administrator, who by then was Luis Pelisamen, had some differences of opinion with Tim and fired him.

Luis hired Joey Arriola. Tim got a court order for his fees and turned the rest of the money over to Joey. (And the bank records confirmed this.)

And then Joey went to court and an order of distribution to give the money to the various heirs was entered. There were some disputes about claims for payments for fees for other attorneys (Rey Yana and Jay Sorensen) and for a survey. There was also a bit of a dispute when Luis claimed that he was entitled to inherit under two of the three heirs. And all of these dipustes held things up a bit.

Eventually a plan was settled upon for payment to the heirs of the undisputed money and a fund set aside to cover the disputed amounts.

But when payments to the heirs were supposed to be made some heirs got nothing, and the court eventually discovered that the money was gone from the account.

I actually saw copies of the checks by which some of the missing money had been taken from the account, purported signed by both Joey and Luis. (I say purportedly because I'm not a handwriting expert.)

At that point, Judge Lizama called in the CNMI AG. Luis and Joey started pointing fingers at each other. And then Joey "did a bunk."

Saipan Writer said...


I would have said that Joey Arriola was a smart guy gone bad.

But if you define stupid by what people do rather than by their native intelligence and ability, I can see how you arrive at your opinion that he's not a very smart guy.