Detention hearing for 2 of 4 suspects in ‘ice’ lab case continues today
The federal court on Friday continued the hearing for the detention pending trial, to tomorrow, Tuesday, of two of the four men arrested in connection with an alleged clandestine methamphetamine lab on Saipan.
U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona postponed the detention hearing following the request of the counsels for defendants Vincent David Cabrera Jr. and Eugene Blas Repeki.
Assistant U.S. attorney Garth Backe, counsel for the U.S. government, informed the court that the prosecution was ready to proceed with the hearing.
Defense counsel Benjamin Petersburg, the court-appointed counsel for Cabrera, however, stated they were not ready to proceed based on the U.S. Probation Office’s report they received.
Steven Pixley, the court-appointed counsel for Repeki, stated he just received a number of documents that morning, Friday. Pixley joined in on Petersburg’s request for additional time to prepare for the hearing.
Manglona remanded Cabera and Repeki into the custody of the U.S. Marshal and were subsequently returned to local custody under the Department of Corrections.
Meanwhile, the initial appearance hearing was held last Thursday against the two other defendants—Sidney Capelle Kani and Rick U. Omar Jr.
Manglona also set the detention hearing for Kani and Omar tomorrow, Tuesday, at 1:30pm, which is the same schedule for Cabrera and Repeki.
Manglona advised Kani and Omar of the charges in the criminal complaint against them and advised them of their constitutional rights.
U.S. Probation Officer Margarita Wonenberg informed the court that Kani refused to be interviewed by the Probation Office as to his financial status.
Wonenberg also informed the court that Kani does have a prior case.
Manglona advised Kani regarding interview by the Probation Office or he will have to hire his own attorney.
Kani then agreed to meet with the Probation Office for the interview after the hearing.
Kani and Omar were remanded into the custody of the U.S. Marshal pending further proceedings.
Cabrera Jr. and Repeki were the first to have been formally charged with conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine and illegal possession of controlled substance before the District Court and the Superior Court.
Kani and Omar were charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents and CNMI Drug Enforcement Task Force and Customs officers arrested the four and searched the clandestine “ice” laboratory in a hotel room and at a Dandan home last Feb. 25.