Ex-Finance staff in embezzlement case pleads guilty


A former Department of Finance employee who was arrested in 2015 for embezzling $3,500 that was paid by some clients of the Members Home Loan program pleaded guilty on Friday to theft.

Ana Castro Cepeda will be sentenced on April 18, 2017.

Superior Court Associate Judge Kenneth L. Govendo vacated the jury trial set for Feb. 6, 2017, and ordered the Office of the Adult Probation to submit a presentence investigation report as soon as possible.

The judge said Cepeda shall be sentenced to two years imprisonment, all suspended except for a range of time served to one year, depending upon his discretion which shall be determined at the April 18 sentencing hearing.

As part of the parties’ plea deal, assistant attorney general Matthew C. Baisley, counsel for the government, will recommend a sentence of one year imprisonment, followed by two years of probation.

Cepeda will be required to pay full restitution to $2,500 to Fermin Sakisat, and $1,000 to David and Doris Atalig.

Assistant public defender Michael Sato served as counsel for Cepeda.

Cepeda is accused of accepting cash payments on behalf of Finance and then keeping and ultimately spending the monies she received from April 7, 2015, to Aug. 31, 2015.

Cepeda was arrested in October 2015 on charges of five counts of theft or embezzlement, five counts of theft by unlawful taking or disposition, five counts of theft by deception, and five counts of theft by failure to make required disposition of funds received.

OPA chief investigator Juan M. Santos stated in his report that their investigation started on September 2015 after Finance Secretary Larrisa Larson and the NMI Retirement Fund comptroller turned over information about thefts of funds involving a Members Home Loan client’s payment.

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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