Rota Mayor Efraim M. Atalig has asked the federal court to compel the U.S. government to produce copies of the plea agreements his three co-defendants had with the CNMI government in the case filed before the Superior Court.
Efraim M. Atalig, through counsel David G. Banes, asked the U.S. District Court for the NMI to compel the U.S. government to produce the plea agreements of Rota officials Dexter Apatang, Vanessa Charfauros, and Magdalena Mesngon.
Efraim Atalig’s girlfriend, Evelyn Atalig, joined in the motion.
In particular, the Ataligs wants to see documents showing the promises the CNMI government made to Apatang, Charfauros, and Mesngon, as far as future prosecution against them is concerned.
Banes also requested copies of documents and records regarding presentence investigation reports and probation files of Apatang, Charfauros, and Mesngo, whom the prosecution intends to call at trial in federal court case.
Apatang, the former resident director of the Rota Department of Labor, pleaded guilty last September and was slapped with a one-year prison term sentence, all suspended, for attending a Republican Party rally in Guam in June 2018 in the guise of a legitimate government trip.
Charfauros is the Rota Department of Public Works resident director, while Mesngon is the Rota Department of Community and Cultural Affairs resident director.
Banes also sought copies of personnel files, disciplinary actions, and investigation reports of U.S. government agents who investigated the case—Federal Bureau agents Michael A. Gadsden and Haejun Park, and Office of the Public Auditor investigators Travis A. Hurst and Josue Genesis C. Cruz.
Banes said the U.S. government has an obligation to disclose exculpatory evidence, as well as any promises made to any witness, or any understanding or agreement, as to the prosecution of that witness.
Exculpatory evidence refers to evidence favorable to the defendant in a criminal case that tends to exonerate the defendant of guilt.
Banes said some of Atalig’s co-defendants in the Superior Court case have entered into plea agreements, including Apatang, Charfauros, and Mesngon.
Banes said Atalig believes the prosecution has subpoenaed or will subpoena them to testify at trial in the case against them (Ataligs) in federal court.
He said Atalig requested in writing such evidence on Sept. 20, 2018, but so far no such evidence related to the co-defendants or any other witness has been produced by the U.S. government, except a summary report of a proffer session with Charfauros.
Proffer session refers to a meeting between prosecutors and individuals who are the focus of an ongoing investigation.
Banes said the U.S. government has an obligation to disclose impeachment materials contained in personnel files of testifying officers when the defense makes a demand for their production.
He said Atalig believes that the prosecution will call agents who investigated the case to testify at trial such as Gadsden and Park, and OPA investigators Hurst and Cruz. He said Atalig asked for such evidence on Sept. 20, 2018, but so far none has been produced.
Banes said he has personal knowledge that there is such evidence related to Park, at the very least.
In the federal court case, the charges against the Ataligs involve at least eight trips taken by the couple at different times in 2018 to Guam, Palau, the U.S. mainland, South Korea, and Saipan.
The Ataligs are being charged jointly with wire fraud, theft concerning programs receiving federal funds, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and federal funds theft. The Ataligs have pleaded not guilty.
In the Superior Court case, the Office of the Attorney General filed a second amended information that re-charged Efraim Atalig and seven others, including Apatang, Charfauros, and Mesngon with misconduct in public office and eliminated the prior counts of theft.
The four other co-defendants are Department of Commerce resident director Dean Manglona, former Department of Public Safety resident director Eusebio Manglona, Department of Finance resident director Josepha Manglona, and Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services resident director Dennis Mendiola.