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2 Rota officials accused of misconduct in public office seek non-trial disposition of case

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ROTA Resident Director of Commerce Dean Manglona and Resident Director of Finance Josepha Manglona are seeking a non-trial disposition of the misconduct in public office case filed against them in Superior Court.

Asked for comment, the Office of the Attorney General’s Chief Prosecutor John Bradley said: “Consistent with the ethical standards set by the judiciary, matters regarding plea negotiations are not public or available for comment until resolved in court. Therefore, the AG’s office has no comment.”

According to the prosecution, Rota Mayor Efraim Atalig and seven of his former/current resident directors — including Dean Manglona and Josepha Manglona — used CNMI public fund, time, personnel equipment for political or campaign activity by attending or promoting a political or campaign rally on Guam.

Three of the defendants — Vanessa Charfauros, Magdalena Mesngon, and Dexter Apatang — have already disposed the cases against them through a plea agreement with the AG’s office.

Besides the Rota mayor, the remaining defendants are Dean Manglona, Eusebio Manglona, Josepha Manglona, and Dennis Mendiola.

Based on a stipulation signed by Dean Manglona and Josepha Manglona through their respective lawyers, the AG’s office filed a third amended information.

Assistant Attorney General Erin Toolan stated that the Commonwealth Rules of Criminal Procedure permit for an information to be amended at any time before verdict or finding if no additional or different offense is charged and if the substantial rights of the defendant are not prejudiced.

“In this case, the parties agree to amend for purposes of non-trial disposition,” she added.

Toolan, in the motion, stated that the proposed amendment does not necessitate additional discovery, and will neither unduly prejudice the defendants nor compromise the proceedings.

The proposed third amended information accused Dean Manglona and Josepha Manglona of accepting per diem and rental car payments improperly, and using administrative leave for days when they were not traveling on government business.

Initially, all the defendants were charged with theft, but this was omitted by the prosecution in the second amended information.

The bench trial for the Rota officials will commence on March 30, 2020.

In federal court, the jury trial for Mayor Atalig and his girlfriend Evelyn Atalig has been postponed again after the mayor’s lawyer, David Banes, was arrested on a DUI charge Monday.

The Ataligs’ trial was supposed to start on March 10, but District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona granted the joint motion for a short continuance.

The trial will now start on March 18 at 8:30 a.m.

The Ataligs are 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.

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