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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Retrial of ex-Corrections officer starts tomorrow

The retrial of Mariano Falig Jr., a former Corrections officer facing charges of distributing crystal methamphetamine, will start in federal court tomorrow, Tuesday.

The jury selection will be at 10am in the U.S. District Court for the NMI. Assistant U.S. attorney Ross Naughton is counsel for the U.S. government. Attorney Bruce Berline is counsel for Falig.

In March 2013, U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona declared a mistrial in Falig’s case after the latter’s counsel, Ramon K. Quichocho, disclosed at the time that he represents the prosecution’s key witness in a family court proceeding.

Quichocho explained that during jury selection, the prosecution for the first time described a task force officer involved in the investigation as the son of Rep. Janet U. Maratita (Ind-Saipan).

Quichocho said the task force officer is his client in a separate family court case in the Superior Court.

Quichocho made the disclosure shortly after the court completed jury selection. Naughton urged Manglona to declare a mistrial and start over by appointing a new attorney for Falig.

Falig, after consulting with an independent and conflict-free counsel, consented to the declaration of a mistrial and retrial.

“Because Quichocho’s error has tainted this case beyond salvaging, the court declares a mistrial,” said Manglona in the March 13, 2013, order.

The indictment charged Falig and Vicente Aldan Sablan with conspiracy to distribute “ice” and distribution of “ice.”

In addition, Falig was charged with possession of a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime. The prosecution, however, dismissed this charge.

Sablan signed a plea deal with the U.S. government and entered a guilty plea.

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