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Last updateTue, 27 Aug 2019 12am







    Monday, August 26, 2019-9:02:41P.M.






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Overstaying tourist drives illegal taxi using fake driver’s license

AN overstaying tourist who drove an illegal taxi has been arrested for possessing a “fictitious” driver’s license.

Chunxiao Chen was charged with using a fake document — a CNMI driver’s license — in federal court.

According to the partially sealed criminal complaint filed in the District Court for the NMI, Chen was cited by a task force officer for driving with an expired Saipan driver’s license on May 2, 2019. The officer also questioned the passenger of the vehicle who claimed that Chen was a taxi driver.

Chen’s driver’s license was confiscated and she was “requested” to report to the Homeland Security Investigations office at the Marina Heights II Business Plaza to verify her immigration status.

At the HSI office, and through a Mandarin interpreter, HSI personnel learned that Chen was granted CNMI-only conditional parole by Customs and Border Protection on Oct. 23, 2013 until Oct. 30, 2013.

Chen was then “administratively arrested for violating the Immigration and Nationality Act Section 212(a)(7)(A)(i)(I).”

She was told that she was unable to legally drive on Saipan and was ineligible for a driver’s license because she did not have valid immigration status.

Chen stated that she understood, and agreed to return to the HSI office. She was then released from HSI custody.

On May 16, 2019, the same task force officer saw Chen driving a red Toyota sedan. After she pulled over, the officer asked her why she was driving. He said Chen presented a driver’s license which, after a check with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, was found to be “fictitious.”

In her partially sealed affidavit in support of criminal complaint, HSI special agent Nicole C. Sively said Chen “knowingly and willfully used a document (a CNMI driver’s license) that contained a materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statement, all in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001 (a) (3).”

At the initial hearing in federal court on Friday, Chen was represented by court-appointed counsel Steven Pixley. An interpreter, Jay Bemis, was provided for her.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Garth Backe asked the court to detain the defendant pending trial.

Chief Judge Ramona V, Manglona scheduled a detention hearing for Tuesday, May 21, at 9 a.m. and a preliminary hearing for May 31 at 9 a.m.

After hearing from U.S. probation officer assistant Juanette David-Atalig regarding Chen’s home address, the judge remanded Chen to the custody of the U.S. Marshals pending further court proceedings.