BREAKING NEWS: Rota Mayor Atalig indicted

Rota Mayor Efraim Atalig is being indicted in federal court for wire fraud after he allegedly arranged a government-funded trip from Rota to Guam for himself and 12 other persons, including eight municipal employees, on a false claim that he was going to check for surplus equipment at the Naval Base in Guam but actually he went there to participate in a partisan political rally last June 23 in Mangilao.

Atalig was not arrested as he was only summoned to appear in the U.S. District Court for the NMI for his initial appearance on Tuesday at 1:30pm.

According to seven of the 10 CNMI government travel authorizations signed by Atalig, the purpose of the trip was to go to “DRMO” at the Naval Base Guam to look for surplus equipment and “travel to be performed in the interest of the CNMI gov’t.”

DRMO refers to a U.S. Department of Defense office formerly known as the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office, but now called DLA Disposition Services.

The total amount of payments allegedly exceeded $10,000 in CNMI government funds for per diems, air fare, and other expenses, for Atalig and up to eight people.

Federal and CNMI law restricts the use of public funds, time, personnel, or equipment for political or campaign activity, according to the indictment.

Atalig, a Republican, is seeking re-election.

More details to follow.

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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