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Monday, April 21, 2014

Ex-CRM official gets 3 years probation for another Internet scam

The federal court imposed Friday a three-year probation sentence on former Coastal Resources Management official Benny K. Pangelinan for wire fraud for his involvement in yet another Internet scam.

U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona told Pangelinan he is an educated, helping man but somehow his sense of right or wrong is misplaced.

“You need to change your way,” Manglona told him.

Manglona said if Pangelinan wants to visit his family members in the U.S. mainland, he needs to take care of his family first on Saipan whom he victimized.

Pangelinan is strictly prohibited from accessing the Internet during his probation and is required to perform 50 hours of community service, and pay restitution to three victims.

Before the sentence was handed down, Pangelinan pleaded for no jail time, saying he has complied with majority of what U.S. Probation Office required him to do.

“I am serious about it. I am okay and a well disciplined person,” he said.

Manglona asked how he would pay his victims. He said his children are raising money to help him out.

“I promised no more illegal activity,” he said.

Last October, Pangelinan pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of wire fraud in connection with his new involvement in an Internet scam.

According to the U.S. government, Pangelinan transmitted or caused to be transmitted a total of $3,770 through wire transfers to Malaysia and Australia in 2011.

Assistant U.S. attorney Garth Backe said that Pangelinan participated in the scheme from Oct. 14, 2010, to Oct. 31, 2011, obtaining money and property by means of fraudulent pretenses and promises.

Pangelinan approached friends and family members, including three victims, and told them that he was going to receive large sums of money from off-island sources.

Last November, U.S. Probation asked for the revocation of Pangelinan supervised release after he was found accessing the Internet again in San Jose on Oct. 10, 2013. The court granted the request and added 50 hours of community service to the Pangelinan’s release conditions.

U.S. Probation determined that Pangelinan paid his special assessment fee in full and that his retirement wages are being garnished at a rate of $400 a month as payment toward his restitution.

Pangelinan has also completed 200 hours of community service and submitted to the collection of a DNA sample.

In January 2007, a federal jury found Pangelinan guilty of wire fraud charges for defrauding potential investors and for his involvement in an Internet scam. He was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay $129,250 in restitution to five victims.

In September 2011, the U.S. Probation Office moved to revoke Pangelinan’s probation after finding out that he borrowed $21,450 from a couple and received over $11,000 from a family member, with promises to both that he will double their money.

In January 2012, the court placed Pangelinan in the custody of the U.S. Attorney General for hospitalization. The court had found the defendant in violation of the probation, but at the same time the judge determined that there is cause to believe that the defendant “is presently suffering from a mental disease or defect.”

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