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Atalig said to settle local court case

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Rota Mayor Efraim Atalig is expected to take the same route as his co-defendants in his case with the Superior Court and settle.

Atalig is expected to participate in an adult diversion program with the CNMI Office of Adult Probation to settle the case filed against him in Superior Court, like his codefendants.

Atalig’s codefendants in the case, former/current resident directors, disposed the cases against them through a plea agreement or by participating in an adult diversion program.

The program is a voluntary alternative to criminal adjudication that allows a person accused of a crime to fulfill a set of conditions or complete a formal program designed to address, treat, or remedy issues related to or raised by the allegation. Upon successful completion of the conditions of the program, the charges against the defendant are dismissed or not filed.

Atalig is currently charged with one count of misconduct in public office, which is punishable for a period of not more than one year, or a fine of not more than $1,000.

Initially, Atalig and seven of his current and former resident directors were charged by the Attorney General’s Office with misconduct in public office in connection with their alleged participation in a Republican campaign rally on Guam.

Atalig is the only remaining defendant in the local case.

According to Saipan Tribune archives, the OAG recently filed a fourth amended information and amended count one in its suit against Atalig to allege a different theory of official misconduct based on improper approval of per diem for days not spent on official business.

According to the fourth amended information, Atalig committed misconduct in public office from about June 1, 2018, to Nov, 27, 2018.

“[Atalig], being a public official and acting under the color of his public office, committed an illegal act by violating when defendant willfully and knowingly improperly approved travel and/or travel costs for nongovernmental employees or governmental employees who were not traveling for government purposes” the amendment stated.

Back in August, in his case with the U.S. District Court for the NMI, jurors unanimously found Atalig and his common-law wife, Evelyn, innocent on all counts.

The Ataligs were acquitted of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and two counts of false statement.

The Ataligs were being charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and false statement.

The prosecution alleged that the Ataligs went to a lot of CNMI-funded trips in 2018 with the primary, if not the only, purpose being personal and not official.

The prosecution cited eight trips taken by the Ataligs at different times in 2018 to Guam, Palau, the U.S. mainland, South Korea, and Saipan.

Kimberly B. Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.
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