U.S. Attorney for the Districts of Guam and NMI Alicia A.G. Limtiaco announced yesterday the grand jury indictment of Rota Sen. Juan M. Ayuyu (R-Rota) and another person for allegedly conspiring to bring eight federally protected fruit bats from Rota to Saipan.
According to Limtiaco, the indictment charged Ayuyu and Ryan James Inos Manglona with conspiracy to violate the Endangered Species Act and Lacey Act, one count of violating the Endangered Species Act, and one count of violating the Lacey Act.
If found guilty, both defendants face a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a maximum fine of $25,000 for each offense, Limtiaco said.
The indictment alleged that on Oct. 17, 2010, Ayuyu and Manglona conspired to hide eight dead Mariana fruit bats (Pteropus mariannus mariannus) beneath 40 lbs of lemons inside a cardboard box in an attempt to transport the box to Saipan aboard a Freedom Air flight.
A separate indictment charged Manglona with three counts lying to the grand jury and one count of obstruction of justice. See related story on Page 9
If convicted of these charges, Limtiaco said, Manglona faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 on the obstruction of justice charge, and a maximum sentence of five years and a maximum fine of $250,000 on each count of providing a false declaration to the grand jury.
The indictment against Ayuyu and Manglona was filed in the U.S. District Court on Oct. 19, 2012. The other indictment against Manglona was filed in court on Sept. 25, 2012. The court unsealed both indictments on Monday.
Federal agents served the summons on Ayuyu on Oct. 23 at his office on Capital Hill, and on Manglona last Oct. 24 on Rota.
During Monday's initial appearance, the 48-year-old Ayuyu appeared with his lawyer, Steve Pixley. Manglona, 36, appeared with court-appointed counsel Robert Torres.
Assistant U.S. attorney Garth Backe, in behalf of the U.S. government, moved to unseal the case. The defendants did not object.
U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona Manglona unsealed both cases.
Ayuyu and defendant Manglona pleaded not guilty.
Judge Manglona set the jury trial for Jan. 7, 2013. She ordered the defendants be released on $20,000 unsecured bond plus other conditions.
According to the indictment, on Oct. 17, 2010, on Rota, the defendants met at Ayuyu's residence.
Manglona wrapped packing tape around a brown cardboard box containing eight dead Mariana fruit bats underneath 40 lbs of lemons.
At 4:17pm, Ayuyu, using his cellular telephone, called Freedom Air's office and spoke to one of its employees. The senator told the employee that Manglona would be dropping off a baggage for him (Ayuyu).
Manglona, together with another person, drove to the Rota airport and delivered the box to the Freedom Air employee at the check-in counter.
At 5pm, Ayuyu checked into Freedom Air Flight 300 bound for Saipan.
Transportation Security Administration agents discovered the eight dead fruit bats inside the cardboard box while screening it.
Limtiaco said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, together with the CNMI Division of Fish and Wildlife, conducted the investigations.