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    Saturday, December 7, 2019-8:07:36P.M.






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Court grants Ataligs’ latest request for trial postponement

DISTRICT Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona has granted the request of Rota Mayor Efraim Atalig and his co-defendant, Evelyn Atalig, to postpone their jury trial set for Jan. 8, 2020.

In her order on Monday, Judge Manglona said the trial will now start on March 10, 2020 at 10 a.m.

She said, “The ends of justice [are] served by granting the requested extension, [which will] allow defense counsel the reasonable time necessary for effective preparation.”

Judge Manglona ordered the parties to file their trial briefs “under seal” on Feb. 25, 2020.

Upon empaneling the jury, the briefs will be unsealed automatically without any further order from the court, the judge added.

Pre-trial conference was set for Feb. 5 at 1:30 p.m.

According to the court order, the U.S. government must file its proposed jury instructions by Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020. The defendants must file any objections to the instructions of the U.S. government, together with any alternative or additional proposed instructions by Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020.

Initially, the indictment charged Mayor Atalig with one count of wire fraud. In June 2018, the U.S. government stated, the mayor, “acting in his official capacity, arranged a government-funded trip…from Rota to…Guam for himself and 12 other persons, including eight other Rota municipal employees, by means of false claims and under fraudulent pretenses.”

In Nov. 2018, the U.S. government filed a superseding indictment against Mayor Atalig that included his girlfriend, Evelyn Atalig, charging them with conspiracy, wire fraud, theft from program receiving federal funds, and two counts of false statements.

At that time, their trial was set for Jan. 15, 2019, but upon the defendants’ request, it was continued to March 12, 2019.

Following another request from the defendants, the trial was re-scheduled for June 4, 2019.

After undergoing a quadruple bypass surgery in the Philippines in May 2019, Mayor Atalig requested another continuance, which was granted. The new trial date was set for Oct. 1, 2019.

But the defendants, citing the need to hire an investigator to prepare for trial, requested another continuance, which the court granted. The trial was then set for Jan. 8, 2020 at 10 a.m.

The Ataligs, in their latest joint stipulation for trial continuance, stated that they are still conducting discovery, seeking travel records as well as Federal Bureau of Investigation and Office of the Public Auditor interview notes.

As requested by the Rota mayor, the district court also issued a subpoena to the Department of Finance to produce his travel records for the last four years.

In Superior Court, Mayor Atalig and seven of his resident directors are accused of taking government- funded per diem and salary compensation to attend a Republican Party rally on Guam on June 23, 2018.

Presiding Judge Roberto Naraja has rescheduled the jury trial of the Rota officials for Jan. 13, 2020 at 9 a.m.