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Prosecution asks court to quash Rota mayor’s subpoenas

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ASSISTANT U.S. Attorney Eric O’Malley has asked the federal court to quash two subpoenas addressed to the CNMI Office of the Attorney General and the Office of the Public Auditor that seek the entire personnel records of investigators in  Rota Mayor Efraim Atalig’s case, including, without limitation, “job applications and related documents, performance evaluation, complaints and disciplinary records.”

O’Malley said the subpoenas were issued on Aug. 4 and that “the return date for both subpoenas was Aug. 11, 2020 at 4:30 a.m.”

He said the defendant’s subpoenas are “an improperly cast net for impeachment material.”

The subpoenas, he added, seek “private information protected by Commonwealth law, the relevant portions of which have been or will be disclosed to the [U.S.] Government, and then exchanged during the ordinary course of discovery.”

O’Malley said if the court determines that the subpoenas are enforceable, the U.S. government requests that the judge review the records to ascertain what portion, if any, should be disclosed to the defendants, and “to protect the remainder of the confidential or private information included therein.”

O’Malley’s motion was filed on Monday.

On Tuesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Garth Backe filed a second motion to quash the subpoena addressed to the CNMI Department of Finance for the tax record of an investigator involved in the case.

“Compliance with the subpoena would be unreasonable and oppressive, because, in addition to being an unwarranted invasion of privacy, disclosure of the investigator’s tax returns, and return information would constitute a direct violation of CNMI law,”  Backe said.

He said the prosecution has an interest in preventing the defendants from harassing witnesses as well as ensuring that the law is followed.

The subpoena issued on Aug. 10 addressed to the CNMI Department of Finance has a requested return date of Aug. 12 at 9 a.m.

The jury selection for the trial of Mayor Atalig and co-defendant Evelyn Atalig started in the new federal courthouse Tuesday morning.

They are accused of arranging CNMI government-funded trips to California, Palau, Guam, and Saipan from Feb. 2018 to Aug. 2018, and were charged  with conspiracy, wire fraud, theft from program receiving federal funds, and two counts of false statements.

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

 

 

 

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