Ada asks court to set aside her perjury conviction


Leyda I. Ada has asked the federal court to set aside her perjury conviction and acquit her of the charge.

Ada, through counsel Mark B. Hanson, asserted that there is no evidence that she was aware of the contents of a form for financial affidavit completed by the U.S. Probation officer.

Hanson said there is no evidence that Ada had “cash on hand” as that term is used in the form.

Last June 26, a federal jury acquitted Ada of the charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering and money laundering but found her guilty of perjury.

Perjury has a maximum prison term of five years, Saipan Tribune learned. Ada’s sentencing will be on Nov. 13, 2015.

The 12 jurors found Ada guilty of perjury when she signed “no” to the question in a form if she has any cash on hand or money in savings or checking accounts.

In order to determine whether Ada could afford her own lawyer when she was arrested, she was required by the court to truthfully complete a financial affidavit.

In the paragraph titled “Employment,” Ada also checked the “no” box indicating that she was not employed.

According to the indictment, Ada’s statements were false because she knew that she had $4,000 in cash at her house and had access to at least two bank accounts at First Hawaiian Bank.

In Ada’s motion for acquittal, Hanson said there is no evidence that Ada had any money of her own in any savings or checking account that would make even an adopted admission in the financial affidavit form potentially false. Hanson said similarly, no rational juror could have found on the evidence at trial that Ada acted willfully, deliberately, and with knowledge with regard to the statements contained in the form.

The lawyer said Probation officer Margarita Wonenberg testified that she completed the form, not Ada.

Hanson said the Wonenberg purposely did not inform Ada of important rights she had prior to completing the form portion of the pretrial services interview, including the right to be presented by counsel and the fact that the form could not be used against her except in a trial for perjury on the form itself.

“In short, no matter the presumption and the inferences that favor the government, no rational juror could have found Ms. Ada guilty of perjury beyond a reasonable doubt on the evidence at trial in this case. This court should issue judgment of acquittal,” Hanson said.

With respect to the conspiracy to commit money laundering, the indictment alleged that immediately after Ada’s husband, Melvin, stopped reporting to work at the Commonwealth Health Center on July 5, 2011, he and Ada, assisted by others, conducted a series of financial transactions to hide the proceeds derived from health care fraud and embezzlement.

On money laundering, Ada allegedly withdrew $17,334.61 from her personal savings account that she knew had been procured by health care theft and embezzlement.

Ada used to be a sales representative for Midwest Medical Supply Co. Inc., a Missouri-based company that had supplied dialysis consumables and equipment to the Commonwealth Health Center.

Melvin is a former employee of the Commonwealth Health Center. He pleaded guilty to 56 charges for misappropriating and diverting CNMI Treasury checks made payable to a medical supplier company totaling over $1.7 million. His sentencing will be on Aug. 21, 2015.

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

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