Benny Pangelinan gets another 11-month prison term


The federal court has revoked the probation of Benny K. Pangelinan after he admitted approaching again a relative that he previously swindled of more than $20,000 to claim he has $2 million in a bank but that he needed $850 to pay a “Customs fee” for the release of the money.

Pangelinan, a former Coastal Resources Management official, has been twice convicted for his involvement in an Internet scam.

U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona on Tuesday ordered Pangelinan to spend 11 months in prison. Upon his release, he will be placed on 36 months of supervised release.

Pangelinan will remain free while waiting for the designation of a federal prison where he will serve his sentence. He is required to call the U.S. Marshal’s Office every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday so he would know when to surrender and start serving his sentence.

The judge warned him of severe penalties if he fails to surrender.

Pangelinan is prohibited from having any contact with his three victims and from accessing the Internet without prior written permission from the U.S. Probation Office.

He was also ordered to pay to the clerk of court $32,825 in restitution for disbursement to the victims.

U.S. Probation Officer Gregory F. Arriola said that Pangelinan still has a balance of $26,525 on the restitution he owes his victims.

In his petition for revocation, Arriola disclosed that U.S. Probation Officer Margarita Wonenberg received a call on June 17, 2015, from one of Pangelinan’s prior victims.

The victim disclosed that Pangelinan had stopped by her home on two occasions, asking for money so he could pay “Customs taxes” to release his money out of holding. The victim said she gave Pangelinan $450.

The victim said Pangelinan informed them that there was money for him in a Bank of Guam account totaling $2 million. He claimed that an individual was on Saipan to give him documents and a bank card that will give him access to that money. He did not elaborate on the identity of this person.

Pangelinan informed her that he needed $850 to pay a “Customs fee” to have the money released to him, but did not have enough money to make the full payment.

At a revocation hearing on Tuesday, Steven Pixley, court-appointed counsel for Pangelinan, stated that the defendant would be admitting to the allegations that he made contact with the victims on May 28, June 4, and June 17, 2015. Pixley recommended that Pangelinan’s probation be extended and not revoked.

Assistant U.S. attorney Ross Naughton agreed with the U.S. Probation’s recommendation to impose a 12-month sentence.

In January 2007, a federal jury found Pangelinan guilty of wire fraud charges for defrauding potential investors and for his involvement in an Internet scam. He was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay $129,250 in restitution to five victims.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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