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Court grants Ataligs’ motion to seal FBI, OPA interview notes

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DISTRICT Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona has granted the request of Rota Mayor Efraim Atalig and co-defendant Evelyn Atalig to file under seal the interview notes of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Office of the Public Auditor.

“The interview summaries and reports prepared by the FBI and the OPA materially misrepresent what was said by the witnesses interviewed,” defense attorneys, David Banes and Steven Pixley said.

“The interviews were not recorded by the FBI or the OPA and no interpreter was present,” they added.

“There is reason to believe that the interview notes, if taken truthfully by the agents, will reveal… other misrepresentations in the FBI and OPA reports and summaries.”

The defense is requesting the court to order the prosecution to produce all the FBI and OPA interview notes, or at least conduct a review to determine whether they should be produced.

As the FBI and OPA interviews contained sensitive information, the Ataligs also want them filed under seal.

Their trial will start on March 10, 2020 at 10 a.m.

The defendants have been charged with conspiracy, wire fraud, theft from program receiving federal funds, and two counts of false statements.

They were accused of arranging CNMI-government funded trips to California, Palau, Guam, and Saipan under fraudulent pretenses.

In Superior Court, Mayor Atalig and seven of his resident directors were accused of taking government- funded per diem and salary compensation to attend a Republican Party rally on Guam on June 23, 2018.

Presiding Judge Roberto Naraja has rescheduled the jury trial of the Rota officials from Jan. 13, 2020 to March 30, 2020.

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