Defense attorney Pamela Brown Blackburn yesterday told a federal jury that they will show evidence that there is no scheme in the case against former U.S. Army Reserve member Jordan M. Jucutan.
In the defense’s opening statements, Blackburn asked the jurors to pay attention to the evidence and witnesses’ testimony and find Jucutan not guilty of all charges.
Jucutan, a teacher, is on trial in the U.S. District Court for the NMI on charges of four counts of wire fraud and four counts of aggravated identity theft.
The U.S. government accused the defendant of engaging in a scheme to defraud and to obtain money by falsely claiming he referred soldiers to enlist in the U.S. Army Reserve through the Army Reserve Recruiter Assistant Program.
Blackburn said this case is not a simple one, but complex.
Blackburn said the evidence will show that Jucutan was assisting in the recruitment of potential soldiers and that he was not a recruiter.
The defense counsel said Jucutan is just a civilian soldier who was paid by contractor Document & Packaging Brothers Inc. (Docupak) to administer the Army Reserve Recruiting Assistance Program.
Blackburn said Jucutan was assisting in the recruitment of potential soldiers because he needed money for his then-expected baby girl and future children.
Blackburn said they will show, by U.S. government’s own witnesses, that Jucutan helped people, that he is a good teacher, a good parent, and a trusted member in the community.
After Blackburn’s opening statements, assistant U.S. attorney Russell Lorfing called the U.S. government’s first witness—William Stewart, a retired U.S. Marine Corps. officer who served as deputy program manager for Docupak in 2007 to 2009.
Stewart testified that he joined Docupak in 2005 and left the company in 2014. At present, he is jobless.
Stewart basically testified how the Army Reserves Recruiter Assistant Program (AR-RAP) worked, the goals and training modules of AR-RAP, the AR-RAP trainings that Recruiting Assistant (RA) received, information about online portal to earn an AR-RAP payment, method of AR-RAP payments, among other things.
Stewart also testified about expectations and duties of the Recruiting Assistants.
During Blackburn’s cross-examination, Stewart said Jucutan’s case is the seventh trial in the entire nation in which he testified involving a similar scheme.
He said he also testified at two trials in Guam.
When Saipan Tribune left the courtroom yesterday late afternoon, Blackburn was still cross-examining the witness.
U.S. District Court for the NMI Senior Judge Alex R. Munson is presiding over the jury trial.