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Defense rests in Rota mayor’s jury trial

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THE defense lawyers of Rota Mayor Efraim Atalig, and co-defendant Evelyn Atalig rested their case Friday afternoon.

The Ataligs waived their rights to testify.

Defense attorneys David Banes and Steven Pixley as well as the prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric O’Malley, will make their closing arguments today, Monday, when the jury trial resumes at 9 a.m.

The defense had subpoenaed 50 individuals, but called less than 30 witnesses to testify at the trial.

The prosecution, which rested its case on Tuesday last week, called in 19 witnesses to testify.

Variety learned that one of the alternate jurors has been excused, leaving three alternates and 12 jurors on the panel. The court did not say  why the alternate juror was excused.

Following a motion for judgment of acquittal by the defense on Tuesday, Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona of the District Court for the NMI granted in part and denied in part the motion.

Judge Manglona acquitted the Ataligs of the count III charge of theft from program receiving federal funds.

The remaining charges for the jury to consider are conspiracy, wire fraud, and two counts of false statements.

According to the defense, there was not enough evidence to show that there was any intent to defraud or fraud in the evidence submitted and testimonies heard from the witnesses.

“There was no pattern that showed criminal motive, criminal intent,” the defense added.

The defendants are accused of arranging CNMI government-funded trips to California, Palau, Guam, and Saipan from Feb. 2018 to Aug. 2018.

On Friday, outside the presence of the jury, the judge, the defense attorneys, and the prosecution reviewed the proposed final jury instructions and jury verdict form.

The parties also filed a stipulation that if recalled to testify, Ana Maria Inos would testify as follows:

1) Mayor Atalig attended the funeral of Ana Maria Inos' grandfather in May 2018. At the funeral. Mayor Atalig spoke to Ana Maria Inos and offered his condolences. Ana Maria Inos believed Mayor Atalig also may have mentioned something to her about the upcoming June trip to the Defense Logistics Agency (previously known as the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office, or DRMO) on Navy Base Guam.

2) Sometime in June 2018, Ana Maria Inos knew there was a Republican Party rally the week of June 23, 2018 on Guam.

3) Ana Maria Inos had a bad feeling about the Mayor's trip to Guam and felt that she would somehow be a pawn. This bad feeling was part of Ana Maria Inos' decision-making and was part of the reason she said no when asked to arrange a trip to DRMO.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eric O’Malley and Garth Backe are the prosecutors.

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