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Judge strikes some words from false statement charge against Evelyn Atalig

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CHIEF Judge Ramona V. Manglona of the District Court for the NMI on Thursday struck the words “and that she stayed with her sister in Guam” in the superseding indictment charging Evelyn Atalig with making false statements.

The judge made the ruling after attorney Steven Pixley, who represents Evelyn Atalig, made the motion during a discussion on whether to recall Office of the Public Auditor investigator Travis Hurst so he can testify regarding alleged inaccuracies in his interviews of witnesses.

Pixley then proposed to simply strike the language in count 5 of the indictment against Evelyn Atalig.

Count 5 states that on Aug. 10, 2018, Evelyn Atalig lied to an FBI special agent that the purpose of her trip to Guam was to meet with DLA Disposition Services and that it was an official trip; and that she stayed with her sister while in Guam when in fact she stayed in a hotel with her co-defendant, Mayor Efraim Atalig, and the purpose of the trip was personal and political, and not official.

The superseding indictment originally charged the Ataligs 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.

On Wednesday, Judge Manglona   granted in part and denied in part the defense motion for a judgment of acquittal.

Judge Manglona acquitted the Rota mayor and Ms. Atalig from the count III charge of theft from program receiving federal funds.

The judge then instructed the jury about the changes in the charges against the defendants.

After the prosecution rested its case on Tuesday, the Rota mayor’s lawyers David Banes, Cong “Dennis” Nie, and Joseph Horey moved for a judgment of acquittal stating that there was insufficient evidence presented to maintain the charges.

Ms. Atalig, represented by attorney Steven Pixley, joined the motion for judgment of acquittal.

On Thursday, Judge Manglona granted the U.S. government motion to preclude the expert testimony of Dr. Gregory M. Vecchi.

Banes has said that “Dr. Vecchi’s testimony is directly relevant to testimony that has already been given at trial, particularly by OPA investigator Travis Hurst.”

The defense expert witness is expected to call into question the U.S. government investigation of the defendants, but the prosecutors objected to the testimony.

The defense witnesses who testified on Thursday included Secretary of Lands and Natural Resources Anthony Benavente, former Rep. Glenn Maratita, Mayors’ Council of Guam executive director Angel Sablan via teleconference, and Thomas Mendiola of the Rota Mayor’s office.

The jury trial will resume today, Friday, at 8:15 a.m.

 

 

 

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