Marianas Variety

Last updateWed, 18 Sep 2019 12am







    Tuesday, September 17, 2019-4:27:13P.M.






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Rota DOL director in corruption case to change plea

ROTA Department of Labor Resident Director Dexter Apatang will change his not-guilty plea and participate in the CNMI Adult Diversion Program to resolve the corruption charge against him.

The program “is a voluntary alternative to criminal adjudication that allows a person accused of a crime to fulfill a set of conditions or complete a formal program designed to address, treat, or remedy issues related to or raised by the allegation.”

In a minute order issued by Superior Court Presiding Judge Roberto C. Naraja on Sept. 6, it was stated that the parties were working on a non-trial disposition of Apatang’s case.

Judge Naraja ordered Apatang to appear in court on Sept. 24 at 9 a.m. for a change of plea hearing.

The judge also ordered Apatang’s co-defendants to appear on the same date for their arraignment.

Apatang’s co-defendants are Rota Mayor Efraim Atalig, Department of Public Works Resident Director Vaness Charfauros, Department of Commerce Resident Director Dean Manglona, Department of Finance Resident Director Josepha Manglona, Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services Resident Director Dennis Mendiola, Department of Community and Cultural Affairs Resident Director Magdalena Mesngon, and former Department of Public Safety Resident Director Eusebio Manglona.

On Aug. 30, Judge Naraja allowed the CNMI government to file second amended information against the defendants, charging them each with misconduct in public office.

The CNMI government omitted the theft charge that was previously filed against the defendants.

According to the amended information, from June 1 to Aug 30, 2018, the eight Rota officials committed misconduct in public office.

The CNMI government said the Rota officials took government funded per diem and salary compensation to attend a Republican Party campaign rally on Guam on June 23, 2018.

Misconduct in public office is punishable “for a period of not more than one year, or fined not more than $1,000, or both.”

All defendants pled not guilty to the corruption charge with the exception of Magdalena Mesngon who agreed to participate in the Adult Diversion Program to resolve the case against her.

Judge Naraja re-scheduled the trial for the Rota officials for Jan. 13, 2020 at 9 a.m.

In a separate case filed in federal court, Mayor Atalig and his girlfriend Evelyn Atalig were accused of arranging CNMI government-funded trips to California, Palau, Guam, and Saipan under fraudulent pretenses.

The superseding indictment charged the Ataligs with conspiracy, wire fraud, theft from a program receiving federal funds, and two counts of false statements.

Recently District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona granted the Ataligs’ request to postpone their trial scheduled for Oct.1, 2019. Their trial will now start on Jan 8. 2020 at 10 a.m.