Court OKs distribution of $19.3M to Mangabao heirs

AFTER years of litigation, the Superior Court finally issued a decree of final distribution for the $19.3 million paid by the CNMI government to the heirs of the estate of Maria Mangabao.

Judge Kenneth L. Govendo signed the decree on Dec. 22, 2017.

It states that the government paid the Mangabao estate $3 million on March 3, 2017, and $16,291,763 on Aug. 18, 2017. As of Nov. 30, 2017, the account balance was $19,296,963.20 for land taken by the government in 1993.

At the final distribution hearing, estate administrator Ramon Tebuteb appeared with his counsel Benjamin K. Petersburg.

Maria Mangabao died on Saipan in the early 1990s leaving three heirs who are now all deceased: Ramona Tangamar, Visitacion Rangamar Flores and Vicente Rangamar. The three estates were represented by attorney Vincent D.L.G. Torres.

One individual objected to the final distribution on the record, Julia Seman, who also asserted an interest in the distribution of the estate, but the court denied her claim. The court likewise found that notice was duly published and the appropriate parties were properly notified of the hearing.

Judge Govendo ordered the estate to pay attorney’s fees, and fees for the administrator first.

Estate administrator Ramon A. Tebuteb “shall receive $250,000 representing payment for nearly 15 years of service to the court and the estate and for reimbursement of fees paid to the law firm of Smith and Williams for legal services.”

The court said $30,000 representing legal fees for the probate and administration of the estate “shall be paid to Berline & Associates LLC” while attorney James Stump “shall be paid $11,312.50 for providing tax analysis.”

The law firm of O’Connor, Berman, Dotts & Banes and the estate of Edward Arriola “shall get $3 million for their legal fees claims against the [Mangabao] estate.”

Judge Govendo said the remaining funds will be shared equally by the three identified heirs of the Mangabao estate who will get $5,335,216 each: the estate of Vicente Rangamar, the estate of Visitacion Rangamar Flores and the estate of Ramona Rangamar.

Initially, Mangabao estate administrator Ramon Tebuteb objected to the legal fees claimed by the law firm of O’Connor, Berman, Dotts & Banes, and the estate of Edward Arriola, amounting to $6 million. But the claims were settled on Dec. 19, 2017 with the court’s approval.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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