THE federal court has taken under advisement the plaintiffs’ motion to sanction former Imperial Pacific International LLC chair Lijie Cui.

Cui is a third-party witness in the lawsuit of seven construction workers against IPI and its former contractor and subcontractor, MCC International and Gold Mantis Construction Decoration, both of which have already settled with the plaintiffs: Tianming Wang, Dong Han, Yongjun Meng, Liangcai Sun, Youli Wang, Qingchun Xu, and Duxin Yan. 

The plaintiffs, who have alleged labor violations and human trafficking, are represented by attorneys Aaron Halegua and Bruce Berline.

In a recent motion, Halegua said Cui has violated the court’s contempt order and provided false testimony. He called for sanctions against Cui, including incarceration until she complies with the court’s order.  

Cui, who was represented by attorney Clyde Lemons Jr., invoked her Fifth Amendment right when called to testify at an evidentiary hearing.

Among the other witnesses called to testify at the hearing were Cui’s former attorney Juan T. Lizama, Rep. Tina Sablan, and Howyo Chi, Cui’s interpreter.

Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona of the District Court for the NMI also accepted exhibits and evidence from the parties that included a video clip of Cui’s deposition in February 2021.

The video clip showed Cui denying that she had a cell phone on her when asked if she had it on her. Cui responded that she did not bring her cellphone. Later, a cellphone was heard ringing from Cui's purse. She then asked to be excused for a restroom break. Upon her return she was asked if the cell phone that rang was hers, but she denied owning the cell phone and pointed to her interpreter, Howyo Chi, saying that it was his.

Judge Manglona on Wednesday set a status conference for Nov. 5, at 8:30 a.m.

She said if she issues a written order prior to the status conference, the status conference will be vacated.

On Aug. 26, 2021, Judge Manglona, found Cui in contempt of court, again, for failing to comply with a previous preservation order regarding Electronically Stored Information or ESI that Cui created or used, including emails, and ESI data sent or received by others on her behalf.

The $5.4 million default judgement in favor of the plaintiffs against IPI remained unsatisfied, and that is the reason why all ESI data held by the former IPI chair remain relevant to the proceedings, Judge Manglona said.


Bryan Manabat studied criminal justice at Northern Marianas College. He covers the community, tourism, business, police and court beats.

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