The U.S. government has refiled charges against former Rota customs officer Albert A. Taitano and former Division of Fish and Wildlife staff David A. Santos for alleged poaching on a breeding colony of threatened Mariana fruit bats in 2008.
An indictment charged Taitano and Santos with one count of conspiring to unlawfully take a threatened species and one count of taking a threatened species.
The indictment was filed in the U.S. District Court for the NMI on Sept. 24, 2012. Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona unsealed the case on Monday.
Santos appeared with court-appointed counsel Michael Dotts during Monday's bail hearing. Santos pleaded not guilty.
The jury trial will be on Dec. 3, 2012.
Manglona released Santos on his own personal recognizance with some pretrial release conditions.
Taitano was not summoned to appear in court.
According to the indictment, on the morning of Nov. 1, 2008, Santos and Taitano, along with others, hunted Mariana fruit bats at the Sumac maternity colony roost site on Rota.
At the time, the Sumac roost site was one of three remaining maternity roost sites on Rota and was home to more than 100 roosting Mariana fruit bats, including adults and pups.
Santos and Taitano, along with others, allegedly shot and killed dozens of Mariana fruit bats at the Sumac roost site using shotguns, including a .410 gauge Mossberg shotgun and a .410 gauge Remington shotgun.
Santos and Taitano allegedly unlawfully took a threatened species Mariana fruit bat (Pteropus marianas marianas).
Santos and Taitano were indicted in 2011 with retired police lieutenant Adrian Mendiola over the same alleged poaching incident in 2008.
Only Mendiola's jury trial commenced in May 2011 in the District Court. The court dismissed without prejudice the charges against Taitano and Santos at the prosecution's motion. Dismissal without prejudice means the government may refile the case in the future.
The 12 jurors later found Mendiola guilty of unlawful possession of a threatened wildlife but not guilty of unlawful receipt or acquisition of threatened wildlife.
Assistant U.S. attorney Kirk Schuler told Saipan Tribune shortly after the federal court announced the verdict on Mendiola that they would refile the charges against Santos and Taitano.
Schuler said they will retest the evidence and proceed with the recharging and prosecuting Taitano and Santos.
Schuler specifically stated that they will re-analyze the evidence, including some of the recovered shotgun shells.