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    Wednesday, July 17, 2019-12:22:12A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Judge expresses concern over Rota’s ‘small’ jury pool

SUPERIOR Court Presiding Judge Roberto C. Naraja said if the jury trial for Rota officials charged with corruption would go forward, it would be difficult to enlist jurors from the island which has a population of about 2,000.

Robert Naraja

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At Thursday’s hearing on the government’s motion for trial continuance, the judge said he “anticipates getting jurors from the other islands or having the jury trial on another island.”

The defendants in the case are Rota Mayor Efraim Atalig, Department of Public Works Rota Resident Director Vanessa Charfauros, Department of Labor Rota Resident Director Dexter Apatang, Department of Commerce Rota Resident Director Dean Manglona, Department of Finance Rota Resident Director Josepha Manglona, Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services Resident Director Dennis Mendiola, and former Department of Public Safety Rota Resident Director Eusebio Manglona.

They are charged with theft and misconduct in public office.

According to the prosecution, the Rota officials took government-funded per diem and compensation to attend a Republican rally on Guam on June 23, 2018.

One of the defendants, Department of Community and Cultural Affairs Rota Resident Director Magdalena Mesngon, has accepted the government’s offer that she participate in an adult diversion program under the CNMI Adult Probation.

Another defendant, Department of Public Works Rota Resident Director Vanessa Charfauros, wants the government to produce more evidence and documentation pertaining to the corruption charges against her.

The government opposed the motion. Judge Naraja then gave the defense counsel, Assistant Public Defender Heather Zona, more time to reply to the government’s opposition. He set a hearing for July 2 at 9 a.m.

Judge Naraja previously set the jury trial for Sept. 9, 2019, but Assistant Attorney General Robert Charles Lee has asked the court to reschedule the trial date for Jan. 2020 due to a conflict in schedule.

After hearing from the parties, Judge Naraja took Lee’s motion under advisement.