General

Additional charges filed against Rota mayor; girlfriend indicted

ROTA Mayor Efraim Atalig is facing additional charges in the U.S. government’s superseding indictment that added his girlfriend as a defendant in the government corruption case.

The prosecution stated that Efraim and Evelyn Atalig embarked on CNMI government-funded “personal trips” to California, Palau, Guam, and Saipan under fraudulent pretenses.

The Ataligs were charged with conspiracy, wire fraud, theft from program receiving federal funds, and two counts of false statements. Efraim Atalig

From February 2018, to Aug. 7, 2018, according to the superseding indictment, Efraim Atalig, acting in his official capacity as Rota mayor, arranged government-funded trips from Rota to San Diego California; Saipan; Palau; and Guam, for himself and other persons, including Evelyn Atalig, by means of false claims.

 On March 6, 2018, Mayor Atalig signed CNMI government travel authorizations for himself and Evelyn Atalig to travel from Rota to San Diego. According to the travel authorizations, the purpose of the trip was to “attend the 9th Annual Chamorro Cultural Festival” and “travel to be performed in the interest of the CNMI government.”

The main purpose of the trip was personal and not official, the indictment stated.

The Ataligs traveled together from Rota on March 22, 2018 and arrived in San Diego on March 23, 2018. They remained there for five days, departing for Rota on March 28, 2018.

The superseding indictment stated that the Chamorro Cultural Festival was a one-day event that took place on March 24, 2018.

In addition to plane tickets, the defendants each claimed eight days per diem and received at least $1,500 from the CNMI government, the superseding indictment stated.

It added that on April 19, 2018, Mayor Atalig signed CNMI government TAs for himself and Evelyn Atalig to travel from Rota to Saipan. According to the TAs, the purpose of the trip was “to promote tourism and to attend the 23rd Micronesia Islands Forum and the Flame Tree Festival,” and “travel to be performed in the interest of the CNMI government.”

But according to the superseding indictment, the primary purpose of the trip was personal and not official. The Ataligs traveled from Rota to Saipan on April 24, 2018, and remained here for three days. They returned to Rota on April 27, 2018.

In addition to plane tickets, the Ataligs each claimed per diem for three days and received at least $500 from the CNMI government.

 On April 23, 2018, Mayor Atalig signed CNMI government TAs for himself and Evelyn Atalig to travel from Rota to Palau. According to the TAs, the purpose of the trip was “to promote tourism in Palau” and “travel to be performed in the interest of the CNMI government.”

The Ataligs traveled together from Rota to Palau on May 3, 2018. They remained there for three days and returned to Rota on May 7, 2018.

In addition to plane tickets, the Ataligs each claimed four days per diem and received at least $500 from the CNMI government, the superseding indictment stated.

It added that on June 15, 2018, Mayor Atalig signed CNMI government TAs for himself and eight other government employees to travel from Rota to Guam, as well as two TAs for plane charters.

According to the nine of the 11 government TAs signed by the mayor, the purpose of the trip was to go to “DRMO” to look for surplus equipment and “travel to be performed in the interest of the CNMI government.”

DRMO refers to a U.S. Department of Defense office formerly known as the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office, but is now called  Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services. One function of this office is to sell surplus and used federal equipment. It has an office at Naval Base Guam.

The superseding indictment stated that during the trip, the Rota mayor did not go  to DLA Disposition Services to look for surplus supplies or equipment, and no participant in the trip made an advance appointment with DLA Disposition Services as was required.

According to the superseding indictment,  the true purpose of the trip was not to visit DLA Disposition Services at Naval Base Guam, but was instead personal, and to participate in a partisan political rally held on June 23,2018, in Mangilao, Guam.

Federal and CNMI laws restrict the use of public funds, time, personnel, or equipment for political or campaign activity. The claimed purpose of visiting DLA Disposition Services was intended to disguise and conceal the trip’s true purpose: to engage in political and campaign activity, the superseding indictment stated.

It added that in furtherance of the scheme, Mayor Atalig authorized payments from official CNMI government funds to pay per diems and other expenses for himself and up to eight people, as well as to charter two roundtrip air flights from Rota to Guam, departing on June 20, 2018, and returning on June 25, 2018.

According to the superseding indictment, the total amount of payments from the CNMI government exceeded $10,000.

On Aug. 1, 2018, Mayor Atalig  signed CNMI TAs for himself and Evelyn Atalig to travel from Rota to Saipan. According to the TAs, the purpose of the trip was “to attend the Agriculture Fair on Saipan” and “travel to be performed in the interest of the CNMI government.”

The two travelled from Rota to Saipan on Aug.4, 2018 and remained on the island for three days. They returned to Rota on Aug, 7, 2018.

While on Saipan, the two did not attend the CNMI Agriculture Fair, but Mayor Atalig did participate in organized campaign events on Aug. 6, 2018, the superseding indictment stated.

In addition to plane tickets, the Ataligs each claimed three days per diem and received at least $500 from the CNMI government.

On June 6, 2018, the superseding indictment stated, the Ataligs devised and participated in a scheme and artifice to defraud, and transmitted and caused to be transmitted by means of wire communications in interstate commerce, writings, signs, signals, and pictures for the purpose of executing such scheme, to wit, an email transmission from email address [email protected] to [email protected] reserving two charter flights from the island of Rota to the island of Guam, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1343 and 2.

From on or about March 2018 and continuing to in or about Aug. 9, 2018,  Mayor Atalig and Evelyn Atalig, “acting as agents of a local government or an agency thereof, did embezzle, steal, obtain by fraud, and otherwise, without authority, knowingly convert to the use of persons other than the rightful owners, and intentionally misapply property that is valued at $5,000 or more, and was owned by and under the care, custody and control of a government and agency that received benefits under a federal program in excess of $10,000 during a one-year period,” the superseding indictment stated.

On Aug. 8, 2018, it added, Mayor Atalig falsely stated to an FBI special agent that the purpose of the trip was to meet with DLA Disposition Services, and that the visit with DLA Disposition Services had been pre-arranged and approved by the DLA Disposition Services liaison, when in fact he did not go to DLA Disposition Services.

On Aug. 10, 2018, Evelyn Atalig lied to an FBI special agent that the purpose of the trip was to meet with DLA Disposition Services and was an official trip, and that she stayed with her sister while in Guam, when in fact she stayed in a hotel with Mayor Atalig and the purpose of the trip was personal and political, and not official, the superseding indictment stated.

The initial indictment charged Mayor Atalig with one count of wire fraud. He pleaded not guilty to the charge and was represented by attorney Robert O’Connor.

In Superior Court, the mayor and seven of his resident directors were charged with theft and misconduct in public office.

On Nov. 13, Mayor Atalig was re-elected in a five-way race.

The federal court has set the initial appearance for the mayor and his girlfriend for Dec. 6 at 11 a.m. before Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona.

Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/109175-additional-charges-filed-against-rota-mayor-girlfriend-indicted

About the author

Relative Posts

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.