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Prosecution moves to dismiss charges against Herman Manglona

THE prosecution on the fourth day of the jury trial moved to dismiss with prejudice the charges against Herman Manglona, the co-defendant with former Department of Public Safety Deputy Commissioner Ambrosio Ogumoro.

With prejudice means that the case cannot be filed again.

According to the prosecution, Ogumoro in 2012 took a 1995 Toyota four-door Tercel that belonged to DPS to a shop for repairs using DPS funds totaling $2,500 and then sold the vehicle as scrap for only $50 to Manglona, the brother of Ogumoro’s common-law wife.

Manglona’s counsel, Assistant Public Defender Tillman Clark, said based on the evidence, the prosecution didn’t have enough to prove the charges, hence the motion to dismiss.

“In my opinion quite frankly that’s because he was innocent,” said Clark, referring to his client.

“A big victory not only for my client but for the whole community,” the assistant public defender said.

Ogumoro was charged with theft by deception, misconduct in public office, conspiracy to commit theft by deception, receiving, removal of government property and theft by unlawful taking or disposition.

Manglona as co-defendant was charged with conspiracy to commit theft by deception and receiving stolen property.

Assistant Attorney General Matthew Baisley told the court on Thursday afternoon that “the government has made the decision to dismiss the charge of receiving stolen property against Manglona, as well as the charge of conspiracy to commit theft.”

Associate Judge Kenneth Govendo then told Manglona that he was free to go.

In arguing for his client’s acquittal on Thursday, Clark said he did not know what, if any, evidence that was presented in the court had anything to do with Manglona.

“I have not heard one single witness identify him in court at all — not one,” said Clark.

“All they [the prosecution] have to do is ask the witness. Is this the guy who was there [at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles]? Is this the guy who was there in the procurement office? Is this the guy that sold the vehicle?”

Judge Govendo pointed out that BMV Director Juana Deleon Guerrero testified that Manglona was with Ogumoro when they were registering the Toyota Tercel.

But Clark said Deleon Guerrero did not point to his client, and she was not asked by the prosecution if Manglona “is that person wearing that black shirt sitting next to Mr. Clark.”

Clark added, “Deleon Guerrero said ‘Herman Manglona.’ Which Herman Manglona? I don’t know, and this court does not know. This is an island where people share names and there could be a dozen other Herman Manglonas who could have been with Ogumoro at the BMV — I don’t know.”

Clark said the prosecution made a “big error” when it failed to ask Deleon Guerrero to identify Herman Manglona.

Clark reiterated that at no time in the trial did witnesses point to his client and identify him as Herman Manglona and the person involved in the allegations.

“The only evidence that the BMV director testified on was a signature made by a person named Herman Manglona,” said Clark.

“But that name has not been attached to this person [his client] throughout the evidence that was presented.

“As far I can tell, the only evidence presented about my client in this case is that he got the benefit of a bargain by going to the procurement office and buying a car for $50.

“Is the government saying that as a private citizen of the commonwealth, Manglona has no right, no right whatsoever, to bargain with the government no matter what the value of the car?

“All the prosecution presented was that Manglona allegedly did go to procurement office with Ogumuro…bought a car for $50 and registered it.

“It blows my mind that this was considered criminal conduct.

“There was no statement, there is no recorded conversation — all they have is a letter written by Ogumoro stating that ‘I want this car surveyed.’ There was not even evidence that Manglona knew about that letter.

“There was no evidence of a conspiracy at all. There was no evidence of theft either, and there was no deception because the court has no idea how much the car was worth on Oct. 25, 2012 or on Dec. 5, 2012 — there is no evidence regarding the value of the car.”

As for the charge of receiving stolen property, Clark said there was no evidence that Manglona was on Saipan that time at the BMV.

“All they have is somebody named Herman Manglona was with Ogumoro and filled out a registration for a vehicle.

“For the sake of argument, let’s say it was the defendant Herman Manglona. I still don’t see a single thing wrong with it. I don’t see how he could have known it was stolen and how it was stolen in the first place. There’s no evidence or testimony of any sort of knowledge that could be connected to Manglona to suggest that the vehicle was stolen or that he should have known that the vehicle was stolen.

“This could happen to anyone of us — this could literally happen to anyone sitting in this court right now. ‘Conspiracy,’ ‘receiving stolen property’…for $50? It’s insane! It’s insulting!”

Ogumoro’s counsel, Mark Hanson, told the court that there was also “zero evidence” that the former DPS deputy commissioner took any action to deprive the government of its property.

According to the prosecution, Ogumoro also brought a DPS computer to his True North Bar and used DPS funds to have it repaired at a computer shop.

But Hanson said having the DPS computer equipment with him was part of Ogumoro’s normal course of business as DPS deputy commissioner.

Having the computer out of the DPS area is not a crime, said Hanson who said the court should acquit his client on all charges.

Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/94827-prosecution-moves-to-dismiss-charges-against-herman-manglona

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