Dynasty has until today: Continue talks or go to trial


U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona has given the owner of Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino until today, Thursday, to decide whether or not to move the trial date in the criminal case filed against the company.

At a status conference on Tuesday, Manglona ordered attorney Bruce Berline to meet and confer with his client, Hong Kong Entertainment (Overseas) Investments Ltd., and go through all the factors at play in the case.

The judge directed Berline to submit in court a memorialized decision regarding Hong Kong Entertainment’s decision to move the trial or not.

Manglona said the April 7, 2015, trial date would remain on the calendar unless an order removes it.

Manglona said she would not set another status conference and that it would rely on Berline to convey to the court and the U.S. government the defendant’s decision.

Assistant U.S. attorney Marivic David stated that it was still the status quo because the U.S. Department of Justice’s Main Justice in Washington, D.C. has yet to issue a final decision regarding the settlement deal that the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Hong Kong Entertainment have agreed to in principle in order to dismiss the criminal case.

The parties agreed to dismiss the case against Hong Kong Entertainment in exchange for the company giving up $3.02 million in favor of the U.S. government, in addition to other terms and conditions.

Berline said the parties had a telephone conference on Monday and that his client has yet to make a decision whether to continue with settlement talks or proceed with the trial.

David said the U.S. government did ask for a longer continuance on the trial date, taking into account the multiple pending motions in the case.

David said there are several components that are being reviewed by different units in the Main Justice.

Berline suggested that the court give the parties a couple of days to come up with a stipulation, and if it is not favorable, then the court can have parties return to court for a hearing.

At a status conference last Feb. 6, David informed the court that the U.S. government had advised Tinian Dynasty’s lawyer that there has been no final decision yet from Main Justice about the approval of the settlement deal.

The trial was supposed to start last Feb. 9, but the judge postponed it to April 7 at the parties’ request.

Assistant U.S. attorney Ross Naughton, counsel for the U.S. government, told the court last Jan. 30 that although they have agreed in principle to the settlement, they are awaiting DOJ’s final approval of the civil forfeiture amount.

The U.S. government filed in November last year 158 criminal charges against Hong Kong Entertainment: one count of conspiracy to cause a financial institution to fail to file a currency transaction report or CTR, 155 counts of failure to file a CTR, one count of failure to file a suspicious activity report, and one count of failure to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program. The indictment has also a notice of forfeiture.

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 ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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