Cleared of felony charges but convicted of Code of Ethics violations

The former Koror State Government Chief-of-Staff Joleen Ngoriakl calls for an apology from the Special Prosecutor April Dawn Cripps and an oversight of the Office of the Special Prosecutor. 

She made the statement after the court issued a judgment clearing her of the two felony counts she was charged with but convicting her on two misdemeanor Code of Ethics violations. The charges were brought against her by the Office of the Special Prosecutor.

Ms. Ngoriakl expressed upset over how the case against her had ruined her reputation and future job prospects.  She believed she had been wronged by these charges leveled against her by the OSP.

In her statement to Island Times, Ms. Ngoriakl said that the Office of the Special Prosecutor had targetted her and former Governor Franco Gibbons for investigation as “political targets” and filed the cases against her in court, wasting the court’s resources, based only on an anonymous email to their website.

“As a people, we have an over 2,000-year-old way of life where if one of us is struggling, the village comes together to help. Our constitutional framers enshrined our way of life into both the Republic and KSG Constitution to preserve this community-based identity. Thus, for those 2 ethics charges that punish me for asking my state government for help when I was in desperate need like everyone else, which has been a practice for the last 30-some years regardless of titles and social status of the help-seeker, I think it’s unfair and is a gray area between culture and democracy that needs to be clarified by policy. I truly believe it is outright wrong for a westerner to come in and prosecute us without first understanding our way of life. I’m glad the outrageous felony charges were proven to be nothing more than baseless rumors because I could never live with myself if I did what they accused me of. I want the SP April Cripps to formally apologize in writing for staining my reputation. If not, I ask that the O.E.K. do oversight of her office because she is not using the taxpayers’ money wisely, investigating me and Franco for the past 2yrs as political targets and then deciding to file the charges in court, wasting the court’s resources. It was all based on an anonymous email sent to their website. If this wrong is not addressed, then who is there to protect citizens and young people like me with our whole careers ahead of us? These foreign officials need to know that while our democracy may be similar to that of the U.S., it’s unique in that it is our own flavor of democracy as a sovereign people—the Palauan Democracy,” expressed Ms. Ngoriakl.

According to the Trial Court decision on the case, issued on October 6, 2022, the Republic did not prove beyond reasonable doubt that Ngoriakl committed the two felony acts she was charged with, Theft in the First Degree and Tampering with a Government Record.

However, Ngoriakl was found guilty on the two Code of Ethics charges, Use of Government Property Serving No Public Purpose and Conflict of Interest.  According to the judgment, the first conviction was on the use of government property for private activities that served no government purpose through the renovation of her family home or improvements to her personal residence in Nandeng, Ngerkesoaol hamlet of Koror. The second conviction was by “using her official position to secure privileges, exemptions, advantages or treatment for herself through the renovation of the aforementioned property.”

The misdemeanor convictions are punishable by up to a $10,000 fine for each violation.

Sentencing is set for November 14, 2022.

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