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Tinian mayor subpoenaed to testify in Rota mayor’s trial

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TINIAN Mayor Edwin Palacios Aldan has been summoned by the District Court to testify in the jury trial of Rota Mayor Efraim Atalig, which will begin on Tuesday, Aug. 11 at 10 a.m.

Clerk of Court/Magistrate Judge Heather Kennedy on Aug. 7 issued a subpoena directing the Tinian mayor to appear  in federal court on Aug. 18 at 9 a.m.

For his part, Mayor Atalig, represented by attorney David Banes, has requested the court for authorization of travel advance for off-island witnesses “who are important and necessary defense witnesses.”

Banes told the court that he has “directed my office staff to contact all defense fact witnesses regarding the upcoming trial, and have been informed by my staff that multiple off-island witnesses raised concerns regarding travel expenses and asked our staff what would happen if they simply do not show up.”

Banes also renewed his request for remote testimonies of certain witnesses at trial.

He listed eight individuals who are all based on Guam.

On Friday, Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona granted the remote testimony request.

Banes said he was also informed by attorney Bruce Berline, court-appointed counsel for Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services Commissioner Dennis Mendiola, that Mendiola will move to quash the subpoena served on him to testify at trial, “if there is no travel advance.”

Judge Manglona, in a recent ruling, said Mendiola has no right and no valid basis to assert his Fifth Amendment privilege if called to testify in the trial of the Rota mayor.

Mendiola will be called to testify at trial, Banes said.

Mendiola served as Rota DFEMS deputy commissioner and was charged with misconduct in public office along with the mayor and  his Rota resident directors in Superior Court.

On June 16, the Attorney General’s Office filed a motion to dismiss with prejudice the charge against Mendiola after he agreed to pay restitution and to cooperate with the CNMI government.

The CNMI government has accused Mayor Atalig and the other Rota officials of taking government-funded per diem and salary compensation to attend a Republican campaign rally on Guam on June 23, 2018.

Mayor Atalig is now the only remaining defendant in the local case after the other Rota officials resolved their cases through plea agreements.

In federal court, Mayor Atalig, and co-defendant Evelyn Atalig were charged with conspiracy, wire fraud, theft from program receiving federal funds, and two counts of false statements.

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