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Ataligs’ request for expert witness untimely, says prosecution

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ASSISTANT U.S. Attorney Eric O’Malley is opposed to the request of Rota Mayor Efraim Atalig and co-defendant Evelyn Atalig to add an expert witness to the list of witnesses who will testify on their behalf.

Efraim Manglona Atalig

The Ataligs believe that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Office of the Public Auditor agents materially misrepresented what was said by witnesses that were interviewed by the FBI and the OPA. The Ataligs want to call an FBI interviewing expert — Gregory Vecchi, PhD — to testify on their behalf at the trial.

O’Malley said he opposes the motion as untimely, “because it came on the very eve of trial that has been pending for nearly two years.”

Moreover, he said, the defendants have not yet responded to the U.S. government’s request for a summary of the expert’s opinion and reasons for the opinion.

O’Malley said it is not clear if the expert has even seen any evidence in the case.

He said he sought to discuss the expert’s presumptive testimony with defense counsel on Monday, but had not been able to do so “due to unforeseen circumstances.”

O’Malley asked the court to deny the Ataligs’ request or that parties be afforded an opportunity to negotiate a possible stipulation.

Mayor Atalig and his girlfriend Evelyn Atalig have been charged with conspiracy, wire fraud, theft from program receiving federal funds, and two counts of false statements.

They are accused of orchestrating under false pretenses CNMI-government-funded trips to California, Palau, Guam, and Saipan from February 2018 to August 2018.

Their jury trial is scheduled to start today, Tuesday, March 10, at 9 a.m.

Rota Mayor Atalig is represented by attorney David Banes while Evelyn Atalig is represented by attorney Steven Pixley.

In Superior Court, Mayor Atalig and seven of his former or current resident directors were charged with misconduct in public office.

They are accused of taking government-funded per diem and salary compensation to attend a Republican Party rally on Guam on June 23, 2018.

Vanessa Charfauros, Magdalena Mesngon, and Dexter Apatang have already disposed the cases against them through a plea agreement with the CNMI Office of the Attorney General.

Including the Rota mayor, the remaining defendants in the CNMI case are Dean Manglona, Eusebio Manglona, Josepha Manglona, and Dennis Mendiola

Their trial will start on March 30, 2020.

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