U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona has granted the unopposed request of Rota Mayor Efraim M. Atalig to travel to Manila in the Philippines for heart treatment.
In her order on Monday, Manglona allowed Atalig to travel to Guam on April 18 and to the Philippines on April 19.
While in the Philippines, the mayor must maintain email or telephone contact (personally or through his lawyer) with the U.S. Probation Pretrial Services Office on Saipan.
Manglona said Atalig must return to the CNMI as soon as his treatment is completed and he is cleared to travel.
Meanwhile, Efraim M. Atalig’s girlfriend, Evelyn Atalig, asked the court yesterday to allow her to accompany the mayor to the Philippines.
Evelyn Atalig, through counsel Steven P. Pixley, said she plans to stay with the mayor in Manila until he is released from the Asian Hospital and be able to travel back to Rota.
Evelyn Atalig said her return date is uncertain.
Pixley said the U.S. government’s lawyer informed him that he would not oppose Evelyn Atalig’s request.
Mayor Efraim Atalig, through counsel David Banes, informed the court that he will have heart surgery or a stent placed in his heart at the Asian Hospital.
The Ataligs have been charged jointly with wire fraud, theft concerning programs receiving federal funds, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and federal funds theft. Each of them also faces a separate charge of false statement.
The Ataligs allegedly arranged CNMI government-funded trips to California, Palau, Guam, and Saipan under fraudulent pretenses.
The U.S. government alleged that the primary purpose of these trips was not official business but personal travel or partisan political activity, for which the Ataligs fraudulently claimed per diem and travel reimbursement.
The defendants pleaded not guilty; the trial will start on June 4.