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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Mahmood’s arrest sought
SDLLC adviser fails to appear at deposition

Rep. Janet U. Maratita (IR-Saipan) and her co-plaintiffs in a lawsuit against a sole-source, $190.8-million power purchase agreement asked the Superior Court yesterday to issue a bench warrant against Saipan Development LLC adviser Kenneth Mahmood for failing to appear for deposition.

Maratita’s lawyer, Ramon K. Quichocho, said the court should issue the bench warrant for Mahmood’s arrest for failing to obey the subpoena that commanded him to testify at the deposition.

The deposition was set for yesterday, Dec. 17, at 9am in Quichocho’s law offices at Karissa Center in Gualo Rai.

Deposition refers to a process of taking the testimony of a witness outside of court.

Saipan Tribune tried to reach Mahmood’s counsel, William M. Fitzgerald, for comment but he had yet to reply as of press time.

Quichocho also asked the court to issue an order requiring Mahmood to explain why he should not be cited for contempt for failing to comply with the subpoena.

Quichocho wants the court to issue an order that would force the SDLLC adviser to appear for a deposition.

He said that Mahmood and Jason Osborne, consultant for Allegiance Capital Corp., were on Saipan and met with certain senators, Gov. Benigno R. Fitial, and others to pursue the $190.8-million, no-bid power purchase agreement and related agreements.

As a result, Quichocho said his clients sought to depose Mahmood and served him a subpoena on Dec. 4 to testify at a deposition.

He said Mahmood filed a motion to quash the subpoena on the basis that he did not receive the witness fee. The lawyer noted that under the Commonwealth Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 45, no witness fee was given because the plaintiffs are elected officers and/or an entity of the Commonwealth.

Quichocho said that Mahmood did not appear for his deposition yesterday at 9am.

“Plaintiffs and the good people of the CNMI request that a bench warrant be issued for Kenneth Mahmood for his flagrant disregard of the subpoena that was properly served on him,” Quichocho added.

SDLLC counsel William Fitzgerald filed last week a motion to prevent Mahmood and Osborne from attending the deposition, which according to them, was filed prematurely.

Fitzgerald said the court should issue a protective order because the plaintiffs filed deposition notices in contravention of civil procedures.

The Senate, Maratita and Rep. Ray Anthony Yumul (IR-Saipan) are suing Fitial, former attorney general Edward T. Buckingham, Commonwealth Utilities Corp., and SDLLC in a bid to invalidate the 25-year power purchase agreement.

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