Defense rests in jury trial of 3 remaining defendants in alleged CW-1 scam case

The defense rested yesterday in the ongoing jury trial in federal court of the three remaining defendants in the alleged CW-1 scam case.

The defense rested after attorney Bruce Berline, counsel for defendant Md. Rafiqul Islam, called to the witness stand Wahedul Islam and lawyer Pamela Brown-Blackburn.

Wahedul Islam, 35, long-time friend of defendant Md. Rafiqul Islam, testified via video teleconference from Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Homeland Security Investigations special agent Michael Lansangan, who had already testified, was again called to the witness stand yesterday.

The two other defendants on trial are TBK Auto Cares owner David Trung Quoc Phan and Muksedur Rahman. Phan’s fiancée, Analyn Nunez, and Rahman’s wife, Shahinur Akter, were acquitted of all charges last Thursday.

The closing arguments will be today, Tuesday, at 8am.

After Lansangan, Wahedul Islam, and Brown completed their testimony, the defense announced they rest.

Berline, counsel for Islam, renewed his motion for mistrial, but U.S. District Court for the NMI designated Judge John C. Coughenour denied the motion.

Islam’s motion for mistrial was sealed.

Berline and defense lawyers Robert T. Torres and Steven Pixley, counsel for defendants Md. Rafiqul Islam, Rahman and Phan, respectively, also renewed their motion for judgment of acquittal. The judge denied it.

Wahedul Islam testified that defendant Md. Rafiqul Islam and Abu Bakkar Beg stayed at his house in Dhaka at the night when Beg’s papers to work on Saipan were being processed.

Beg was among the five Bangladeshi workers who are the alleged victims in the case.

Wahedul Islam said he did not notice that Beg paid money to defendant Md. Rafiqul Islam.

He said he saw Belayet Hossain at the Simon Center in Dhaka, where visa documents are being processed, but he did not see Hossain making payments in large amount of money there.

Hossain is along among the five alleged victims in this case.

During cross-examination by assistant U.S. attorney James Benedetto, Wahedul Islam said he spoke, through the phone, to defendant Md. Rafiqul Islam at Berline’s office about two to three times.

In those conversations, Wahedul Islam said he came to know that there is a case against Rafiqul Islam.

Wahedul Islam said he told Rafiqul Islam that he has a desire to work on Saipan as a security guard or a salesperson.

In her brief testimony, attorney Brown-Blackburn said she is representing the five Bangladeshi workers who are victims in this case.

Brown-Blackburn said as part of her job as counsel at a non-profit organization she explained to her clients all the benefits that they would get in testifying and cooperating in the investigation in this case.

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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