Macabalo gets 21-month prison term for perjury

Defendant admits ‘ice’ use changed her behavior, brought her into contact with users, dealers, and other bad influences

Alexandra Castro Macabalo, a 30-year-old woman accused of enticing a 15-year-old girl to engage in sex for cash with a then-CNMI government official in 2013, but pleaded guilty to perjury in federal court, was slapped with a 21-month prison term.

At a sentencing on Friday afternoon, U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona said after completing the prison term, Macabalo will be placed on supervised release for three years.

Macabalo was given credit for time served. As of last Friday, she has been in custody for 220 days. She was ordered to immediately pay $100 in special assessment fee.

During the probationary period, Macabalo will be required to perform 50 hours of community work service and participate in a substance abuse treatment program, among other conditions.

Assistant U.S. attorney Garth Backe, counsel for the U.S. government, recommended a sentence of 21 months imprisonment, which is the high end of the sentencing guideline range.

Defense counsel Benjamin Petersburg recommended a sentence of 10 months imprisonment, which is below the sentencing guideline range.

Attorney Bruce Berline, Petersburg’s co-counsel, stated in defendant’s sentencing memorandum that given Macabalo’s personal history, her acceptance of responsibility, her lack of criminal history, and other factors, a 10-month imprisonment and supervised release with appropriate terms and conditions would be sufficient, but not greater than necessary, to effectuate the purposes of sentencing.

Macabalo has two young children. She has had some difficulties with the father of her children.

Berline said methamphetamine or “ice” changed Macabalo’s behavior and brought her into contact with users, dealers, and other bad influences.

Berline said Macabalo admitted to making a false statement while testifying during a grand jury proceeding involving her uncle, Raymond Roberto.

“Ms. Macabalo has admitted to using methamphetamine and that this played a role in the commission of the offense,” the defense lawyer said.

Manglona also granted the U.S. government’s motion to dismiss with prejudice the indictment filed against the defendant.

Dismissal with prejudice means the prosecution can no longer re-open the case.

After the hearing, Macabalo was remanded into the custody of the U.S. Marshal.

Last March, Macabalo pleaded guilty to perjury.

Perjury carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, a three-year supervised release, and a $100 special assessment fee.

Under the plea deal, the sentencing guideline range is 15 to 21 months imprisonment.

An information charged Macabalo with one count of perjury for allegedly lying before a grand jury.

The defendant then signed a plea agreement with the U.S. government and entered a guilty plea.

Under the plea agreement, the U.S. government agrees to move to dismiss the pending indictment (enticement) upon sentencing.

According to the factual basis of the plea agreement, Macabalo intentionally made false testimony before a grand jury on May 20, 2014.

Macabalo was asked during the grand jury if Raymond B. Roberto asked her to contact a minor girl and see if the girl was willing to have sex with that person for money.

Macabalo answered it’s not for money and that Roberto mentioned to “hook up with him.”

Macabalo also answered she does not recall the question whether Roberto wanted her to convince the girl to have sex with him.

The defendant agreed that she did contact the girl and that she did that because it was a setup.

Asked what she meant by “setup,” Macabalo replied it’s not really a set up, but “it was a prank.”

According to the plea agreement, Macabalo’s testimony had a “natural tendency to influence, or was capable of influencing, the grand jury’s investigation.”

Federal Bureau of Investigation agents arrested Macabalo in April 2015 after a complaint was filed in court, charging her with enticement of a minor to engage in prostitution and other sexual activity. The indictment was later subsequently filed.

Last December, Manglona granted the U.S. Probation’s request to revoke the pretrial release of Macabalo for smoking methamphetamine or “ice” and violating other pre-trial conditions.

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Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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