Marianas Variety

Last updateSat, 07 Dec 2019 12am







    Saturday, December 7, 2019-12:16:52A.M.






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Judge seals documents pertaining to FBI raid on IPI offices

DISTRICT Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona has issued a “sua sponte” order sealing the documents that pertain to the search warrant executed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Imperial Pacific International offices.

According to an online legal dictionary, “sua ponte” is Latin for “of one’s own will,” usually referring to a judge’s order made without a request by any party to the case.

Judge Manglona’s order restricted public access to the documents via the court’s electronic communication filing.

In her order, she said exhibits A & B (copy of search and seizure warrant for the offices of IPI and subpoena to IPI record custodian) “shall be sealed until otherwise ordered.”

But the judge unsealed the exhibits that pertain to properties seized from IPI’s offices.

She also scheduled a hearing on IPI’s second motion for a stay order for Jan. 16, 2020 at 9 a.m.

The search and seizure warrants issued by Judge Manglona and subpoena ordering IPI records custodian to testify before the grand jury were included in the motion for a stay order of attorney Philip Tydingco.

He represents IPI in the lawsuit of seven workers seeking damages and payment for their alleged injuries at the IPI casino construction site.

Tydingco said a stay in the court proceedings is warranted as the FBI investigation is related to the casino project.

In his initial motion for stay, Tydingco also cited the FBI’s criminal investigation as the reason to suspend the civil lawsuit.

IPI previously stated that it would invoke its 5th Amendment rights if subjected to criminal actions based on the conduct of its former contractor and subcontractor.

The seven plaintiffs in the civil lawsuit are Tianming Wang, Dong Han, Yongjun Meng, Liangcai Sun, Youli Wang, Qingchun Xu, and Duxin Yan. They have alleged that they were victims of a forced labor and human trafficking scheme while employed by IPI’s contractor and subcontractor.

They are represented by local attorney Bruce Berline and New York attorney Aaron Halegua.

The court scheduled a status conference regarding the civil case for Dec. 12, 2019 at 8:30 a.m.

The proposed jury trial date for the lawsuit is Feb. 2, 2021.

On Nov. 7, 2019, the FBI raided the offices of the governor, his house, the law office of his brothers, IPI offices, the office of Legend Realty LLC, and the office of IPI consultant Alfred Yue of Marianas Consultancy Services LLC.

The search warrant signed by Judge Manglona authorized the search and seizure of all documents and records (electronic or digital form) that constitute violations of fraud by wire, radio, or television; scheme or artifice to defraud; attempt and conspiracy; laundering of monetary instruments; and contributions and donations by foreign nationals.

The governor and IPI have denied committing any wrongdoing.

For his part, FBI public affairs officer Jason White has reiterated that “the FBI does not comment on active investigations.”