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US court dismisses lawsuit against former Speaker Babauta

FEDERAL Judge Ramona V. Manglona has dismissed all claims against former Speaker Oscar M. Babauta, who was among the defendants in the racketeering lawsuit filed by a businessman.

Babauta, former secretary of the Department of Public Lands, was named in the lawsuit filed by Il Hwan Kim and KSA Corporation.

The court dismissed the case with prejudice, which means the plaintiffs can no longer re-file the claims against Babauta.

“I have continuously maintained my innocence,” the former speaker said, adding that the lawsuit caused him “emotional hardships.”

“It hurt not only me, but also my family, friends and associates and tainted my reputation. I have never thought of dishonoring my family and the community. I hope our people, my family and friends, have witnessed this wrongdoing on the part of the plaintiffs.”

Babauta, at the same time, expressed his “deep gratitude to the Attorney General’s Office for being able to represent me in this matter — I extend my sincere appreciation to them for defending me.”

Last year, KSA Corporation and Il Hwan Kim filed the complaint against Hun Jin An and wife Joann P. Hensley, Jeong Eun Taek, former Secretary of the Department of Public Lands Oscar M. Babauta and DPL employee Ramon S. Salas, all in their personal capacities, and 10 other John Does for violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act of 1970.

The plaintiffs sued the defendants for common law fraud, aiding and abetting fraud, and for allegedly conspiring to steal millions of dollars through wire fraud, mail fraud, forgery, theft and extortion for eight years from 2006 through 2014 in relation to KSA corporation’s attempts to develop a casino resort on public land on Saipan.

Based on the minutes of the court proceedings, Judge Manglona stated that the complaint lacks specific facts to support the claims against Babauta.

She said Kim has had enough time to cure these deficiencies and this was indicated to the plaintiff’s lawyer back in June 2016, a week or so after the complaint was served on Babauta.

Judge Manglona said Kim and KSA have yet to submit any factual basis to support an amendment of the complaint.

The civil division chief of the AG’s office, Christopher M. Timmons, served as counsel for Babauta while attorney Rene Holmes represented Kim and KSA.

Timmons said the complaint failed to specify that Babauta intended to defraud the plaintiffs; that the plaintiffs were deceived by Babauta; or that Babauta was engaged in those activities in anyway

Moreover, Timmons said the court lacked jurisdiction over claims against Babauta because they were barred by legislative immunity.

Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/98681-us-court-dismisses-lawsuit-against-former-speaker-babauta

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