2 OPA Task Force officers testify in trial of Rota couple


The bench trial of former Rota Procurement officer Rowena Barcinas and her husband, retired police officer Andrew Barcinas, began yesterday at the Rota Superior Court. The two are facing corruption charges.

Saipan Tribune learned that the prosecution called two witnesses yesterday. The trial will resume today, Tuesday, at 8:30am.

Office of the Attorney General’s newly hired white-collar crime prosecutor Matthew Baisley called to the stand the government’s first witness, police officer Melissa Bauleong, who is a member of the Office of the Public Auditor-Task Force.

After Bauleong, the prosecutor called OPA-Task Force member police officer J.B. Cepeda.

After the defense completed its cross-examination of Cepeda, Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho recessed at 5pm.

Attorney Steven Pixley is court-appointed counsel for Andrew Barcinas, while assistant public defender Mathew Meyer is counsel for Rowena Barcinas.

Before the prosecution called the government’s first witness, Camacho heard Meyer’s motion to strike and exclude exhibits that the OAG filed before the trial. Pixley joined the motion.

Camacho denied the motion, saying the exhibits were sealed immediately and that he did not see them.

Camacho also noted that none of the photos or exhibits were published in the newspaper so there was no prejudice to the defendants.

The Barcinas couple was arrested last April. They subsequently posted bail. Mrs. Barcinas was arrested on charges of theft by unlawful taking or disposition, conspiracy to commit theft by unlawful taking or disposition, and removal of government property. Mr. Barcinas was arrested for receiving stolen property and conspiracy to commit theft by unlawful taking or disposition.

Bauleong stated in her report that Mr. Barcinas, as then Rota Procurement officer, allegedly used her position to manipulate the system into “surveying” several government vehicles on Rota.

Bauleong said one of the several vehicles was the government’s Jeep Cherokee, that Mr. Barcinas allegedly asked someone to fix and then brought it to his house.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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