31 Dec 2018
- By Bryan Manabat – [email protected] – Variety News Staff
FIVE Rota resident directors pled not guilty to corruption charges during Friday’s arraignment at the island’s courthouse.
Along with Rota Mayor Efraim M. Atalig and Department of Public Safety Resident Director Eusebio Manglona, the directors are accused of theft and misconduct in public office.
They are Department of Labor Resident Director Dexter Apatang, Department of Commerce Resident Director Dean Manglona, Department of Finance Resident Director Josepha Manglona, Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services Resident Director Dennis Mendiola and Department of Community and Cultural Affairs Resident Director Magdalena Mesngon
They appeared before Superior Court Presiding Judge Roberto Naraja. Assistant Attorney General Heather Barcinas represented the government.
Another defendant, Department of Public Works Resident Director Vanessa Charfauros, was not able to make it to the hearing due to an illness. Her arraignment was re-scheduled for next week.
According to the CNMI Office of the Attorney General, Mayor Atalig and the Rota resident directors took government funded per diem and salary compensation to attend a Republican Party campaign rally held on Guam on June 23, 2018.
They were also accused of performing illegal acts under the color of office.
In November, a superseding indictment was filed by the federal government against Mayor Atalig, and his girlfriend, Evelyn Atalig.
They were charged in federal court with conspiracy, wire fraud, theft from program receiving federal funds, and two counts of false statements.
According to the prosecution, they arranged CNMI-government funded trips to California, Palau, Guam and Saipan under fraudulent pretenses.
The mayor and Evelyn Atalig had pled not guilty to the federal charges.
The District Court for the NMI scheduled their jury trial for Jan. 15, 2019 at 10 a.m., but the defendants’ court-appointed counsels and the federal prosecutor have filed a stipulation to move the trial to March 12, 2019.
Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/109743-5-rota-directors-plead-not-guilty-to-corruption-charges