Slider
Slider

|

Slider

Mayor Atalig’s lawyers move for acquittal

Local
Typography
  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

ROTA Mayor Efraim Atalig’s defense lawyers moved for a judgement of acquittal after the prosecution rested its case Tuesday.

For her part, District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona, outside the presence of the jury, invoked rule 29(b), “reserving a decision on the motion.”

She told the parties that she will issue a decision on the motion after the defense lawyers presented their case.

One of the mayor’s defense lawyers, Cong “Dennis” Nie, told the court that there was not enough evidence to show that there was an intent to defraud or there was fraud in the evidence submitted and testimonies heard from the witnesses presented by the U.S. government.

“There was no pattern that shows criminal motive or criminal intent,” Nie said.

Mayor Atalig and co-defendant Evelyn Atalig, have been charged with conspiracy, wire fraud, theft from program receiving federal funds, and two counts of false statements for arranging CNMI government-funded trips to California, Palau, Guam, and Saipan from Feb. 2018 to Aug. 2018.

From left, attorneys Cong “Dennis” Nie and David Banes with Rota Mayor Efaim Atalig pose for a photo outside the new federal court building after the hearing on Tuesday. The mayor’s jury trial resumes today, Wednesday, at 9:15 a.m. Photo by Bryan Manabat

In a separate interview after the hearing, the mayor’s lead counsel, David Banes, told Variety that according to the superseding indictment, “the main reason if not the only reason that Mayor Atalig went on these different trips was for personal reasons.”

But, he said, “we’ve shown evidence that all these trips were for business; it wasn’t personal. There has been no evidence that it was personal.”

Another defense attorney, Joseph Horey, asked the court to dismiss count III: theft from program receiving federal funds, saying that there was not enough evidence to support the charge.

Horey said all the evidence has shown is that the funds Mayor Atalig obtained and used were the property of the CNMI government.

Among the witnesses that testified for the prosecution on Tuesday were Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services Commissioner Dennis Mendiola, former Secretary of Finance Larissa Larson, former Rep. Alice Igitol, Tinian Office of the Mayor Chief of Staff Allen Perez, Star Marianas president Shaun Christian, and Mayor Frankie Salas of Asan-Maina, Guam.

Attorney Steven Pixley is Evelyn Atalig’s defense counsel while Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eric O’Malley and Garth Backe are the prosecutors.

The jury trial will resume today, Wednesday, at 9:15 a.m.

 

November 2020 pssnewsletter

previous arrow
next arrow
Shadow
Slider

Read more articles

Visit our Facebook Page

previous arrow
next arrow
Shadow
Slider