Benedetto: Allegations are false, surreal

Benedetto

Assistant U.S. attorney James J. Benedetto has asserted that the allegations of a notary public that his previous lawyers threatened or forced him to plead guilty are “patently false” and even “surreal.”

In opposing Liang Li’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea, Benedetto said that Li’s allegations are contradicted by his certification and his own statements under oath.

Li, through counsel Janet H. King, also claims that he was pressured to plead guilty and that his then-attorneys threatened that he would be sexually assaulted during a lengthy prison sentence if he did not enter a guilty plea.

Benedetto pointed out that defendant’s certification states that “…no one has threatened me or forced me in any way to enter into this plea agreement. I am agreeing to plead guilty because I am guilty.”

Benedetto said Li also argues that he felt regret that he entered his plea. But he said post-conviction regret is not a fair and just reason for withdrawing a guilty plea.

“Allowing [Li] to withdraw his plea on such transparently frivolous grounds would encourage others to re-litigate their convictions after the government has released its witnesses and ceased its other trial preparations,” he said.

That result, Benedetto added, would be the opposite of “fair and just.”

The indictment charged Li with lying in another person’s U.S. passport application.

Li’s former counsel are Mark Scoggins and Rene Holmes.

When Saipan Tribune left the courtroom on Wednesday afternoon, U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona was still hearing the motion.

The indictment charged Liang Li and Yanan Li with false statement in a passport application and false document.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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