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One of two defendants charged with taking endangered sea turtle to change plea

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RUSSEL Rekemel Solomon, one of the two individuals charged with taking an endangered sea turtle, could not appear in court for a change of plea hearing on Monday because he had no transportation, his court-appointed counsel David Banes told the court.

He asked the court to reschedule the hearing. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona agreed and set the change of plea hearing for Oct. 1 at 2:30 p.m.

For his part, Assistant U.S. Attorney Garth Backe said he plans to proceed straight to sentencing after the change of plea hearing.

Solomon’s plea agreement has been sealed.

Solomon and Jose Machutaro Ichiro Sablan were charged by the federal government with conspiracy to unlawfully take an endangered species.

According to the charging information, Solomon and Sablan, on June 7, 2020 conspired and agreed to unlawfully take a green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), which is listed as endangered.

Solomon and Sablan  dragged the green sea turtle across Tank Beach in Kagman village by a rope tied around the turtle’s shell, court documents stated.

The charge includes a notice of forfeiture to the U.S. government of any materials used for taking or selling of the endangered species. The notice listed two cell phones.

Both defendants appeared before Judge Manglona on Aug. 21 and initially entered a not guilty plea.

Judge Manglona then scheduled a jury trial for Oct. 27, 2020 at 10 a.m.

After the U.S. government did not request detention, the judge ordered Solomon and Sablan to be released on their own recognizance with certain conditions.

Attorney Steven Pixley was appointed by the court to represent Sablan.

 

 

 

 

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