U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona slapped yesterday a 90-day prison sentence against Adrian Atalig Mendiola, a retired police lieutenant who was convicted of poaching federally protected Mariana fruit bats on Rota in 2008.
Manglona allowed Mendiola to self-report to the U.S. Marshals so he could start serving his sentence. After serving his sentence, Mendiola will be placed on six months of supervised release.
Mendiola was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and $10 court assessment fee. He was required to perform 100 hours of community service, such as participation in the Division of Fish and Wildlife’s community outreach education program.
“The young and old people should respect the very rare species. They [endangered species] need to be protected completely,” Manglona said.
She noted that Mendiola is a retired police officer who had sworn to uphold the law.
“You violated the law. In this case, it’s a federal law,” the judge told Mendiola.
Before the sentence was handed down, Mendiola was given a chance to speak. He spoke in Chamorro.
Some 16 individuals, including the Rota mayor, pleaded for a lenient sentence.
In May 2011, the jury found Mendiola guilty of unlawful possession of a threatened wildlife, but not guilty of unlawful receipt or acquisition of a threatened wildlife.
Mendiola’s lawyer, Ramon Quichocho, had recommended a probation sentence with conditions. Quichocho said that probation affords adequate deterrence to criminal conduct and protects the public from further crimes. He said probation and a combination of conditions would adequately reflect the seriousness of the offense, promote respect for the law and afford just punishment.
Assistant U.S. attorney Kirk Schuler recommended a six-month prison term, saying a message should be sent to the public about the real consequences that await offenders, particularly retired law enforcement officers, that knowingly violate the endangered species law.
Schuler introduced in court yesterday a video documentary titled Fanihi that discusses the importance of the Mariana fruit bat to the island of Rota and the CNMI.
Manglona told Schuler that the 16-minute video “spoke well enough.”