A man was indicted for allegedly lying to a federal grand jury in connection with the investigation into a cardboard box that contained eight federally protected fruit bats at the Rota airport last year.
The indictment charged Ryan James Inos Manglona with three counts of false declaration before the grand jury and one count of obstruction of justice.
The indictment was filed in the U.S. District Court for the NMI on Sept. 25, 2012, but was unsealed only last week after federal agents served the arrest warrant on Manglona.
During an initial appearance hearing late Thursday afternoon, Robert Torres appeared as court-appointed counsel for the defendant.
Manglona pleaded not guilty. He was released on a $20,000 unsecured bond with some conditions.
Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona set the jury trial for Dec. 31, 2012.
According to the indictment, on Oct. 17, 2010, U.S. Transportation Security Administration agents discovered eight fruit bats inside a cardboard box checked into a Freedom Air flight while being screened at the Rota airport.
The investigation showed that Manglona had dropped off the box, along with another box, to a certain employee of Freedom Air. The box was for a passenger of a Saipan-bound flight.
Records showed that Manglona received at least three calls from the Saipan-bound passenger on his cell phone shortly after the box was opened by TSA officials.
In an interview with Department of Lands and Natural Resources investigators on Oct. 27, 2010, Manglona denied knowing what was inside the box but admitted, among other things, that the passenger had called him that day and asked him to pick up a box from the passenger's house.
Less than a month after his interview, Manglona allegedly lied in his testimony before a grand jury that was investigating the incident for possible violations of the Lacey and Endangered Species Act.