U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona yesterday slapped a sentence of two years and three months imprisonment against Leyda I. Ada for her conviction of perjury.
“I do not find that you were deceived,” Manglona told Ada, who was in tears.
“It is my position that you are not convicted because you are the wife of Melvin Ada,” the judge said during the sentencing. Most of those present in the courtroom were the Ada couple’s family and relatives.
Manglona ordered that after serving the prison term, Ada shall be placed on three years of supervised release.
Ada was ordered to immediately pay $100 in court assessment fee. No fine was imposed on her.
Ada was allowed her continued release pending the designation of her federal prison facility. She was required to call the U.S. Marshal Service thrice a week to check if there is already an available federal prison facility for her.
Manglona said it is very clear from the evidence that Ada was part of the scheme of her husband, Melvin, as she was also using the stolen funds.
Regarding knowledge of Melvin Ada’s two bank accounts, the judge said there was testimony from her sister that she and Melvin were spending a lot of money.
Manglona said there was also a testimony and evidence that Ada and her cousin once played poker at a game room for hours when at that time the defendant was unemployed.
“You were using a lot of cash,” the judge said, adding that the U.S. government showed evidence that at the time Melvin Ada was stealing money from the Commonwealth Health Center, the only hospital in the CNMI.
Manglona said the poker owner testified that he put Ada’s check on hold.
The judge said it was Ada who told the poker owner that the check has sufficient funds.
Manglona said Ada’s own journal, which was seized by investigators, told about her plans, methodologically, such as house renovation and other things.
Manglona noted that Ada used to be a sales representative for Midwest Medical Supply Co. Inc., a Missouri-based company that had supplied dialysis consumables and equipment to the Commonwealth Health Center.
“It is very clear from the evidence that you were part of the scheme,” said Manglona, adding that the defendant was using the embezzled funds.
Perjury carries a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment.
Manglona determined that the sentencing guidelines range from 28 months to 33 months imprisonment and $6,000 to $50,000 fine.
Assistant U.S. attorney Garth Backe left to the court’s discretion on what sentence to impose.
Backe said Ada’s defense is that she had no idea about the money that her husband had stolen, that she was slow, that she was abused.
“She had lied. She had obstructed justice. Her defense is built on lies, to escape responsibility,” the prosecutor said.
Defense attorney Mark Hanson recommended a probation sentence so Ada could stay with her three young children.
Hanson said its guilt by association, as it was the defendant’s husband, Melvin Ada, who embezzled almost $2 million from CHC.
Hanson said this case sends a message to wives that they better keep track of their husbands to know what they are doing.
The U.S. Probation recommended 27 months imprisonment.
Upon Hanson’s advice for appeal purposes, Ada did not address the court before the sentence was announced.
Hanson called to the podium Ada’s 17-year-old son and her cousin and sister.
The son said his mother is not a thief and a liar.
“She’s just a mother to us. We barely see our dad everyday,” said the son, who stated that his father, who abused his mother, was the one who was responsible for the crime.
The son also stated that it was his father who put the $4,000 cash in the underwear drawer, where he would always put money.
The sister said she was also physically and mentally abused by her then-husband and that’s what Ada was going through.
She said their father raised 14 children and none was in trouble.
“I still continue to stand by her side. My sister is not guilty!” she said.
The cousin addressed the court in vernacular.
Last June 26, a federal jury reached a verdict, acquitting Ada of the charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering and money laundering, but finding her guilty as to the crime of perjury.
The 12 jurors found Ada guilty of perjury when she signed “no” to the question in the “CJA form” if she has any cash on hand or money in savings or checking accounts.
In order to determine whether Ada could afford her own lawyer when she was arrested, she was required by the court to truthfully complete a financial affidavit.
In the paragraph entitled “Employment,” Ada also checked the “no” box indicating that she was not employed.
According to the indictment, Ada’s statements were false because she knew that she had $4,000 in cash at the time in her personal clothing drawer at her house and had access to and was an authorized user of at least two bank accounts.
Melvin Ada is a former employee of the Commonwealth Health Center. He pleaded guilty to 56 charges for misappropriating and diverting CNMI Treasury checks made payable to a medical supplier company totaling over $1.7 million. Last December, he was slapped with a sentence of 12.7 years imprisonment.