Federal court allows release of man indicted for fraud

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The federal court has released on an unsecured bond a man who was indicted for fraud for allegedly selling properties that he didn’t own.

Michael Rosal Benavente, who is charged with two counts of wire fraud for selling real estate properties that were not his own, has pleaded not guilty and was released on an unsecured bond with conditions.

U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona set the jury trial for Benavente for Dec. 8 at 10am.

The U.S. government wants to forfeit any money or property from the offense upon the conviction of Benavente.

Bruce Berline was appointed to represent Benavente while assistant U.S. attorney Garth Backe represented the federal government.

According to the indictment, between Dec. 22, 2018 and June 7, 2019, Benavente allegedly devised a scheme to defraud individuals to obtain money by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses and representations.

Benavente allegedly provided false and fraudulent documents such as title reports and warranty deeds to individuals for the purpose of inducing financial investments in purported real estate transactions.

One of the examples stated on the indictment states that the defendant allegedly provided an individual with a preliminary title report that showed he had title to Lot No. E.A. 167-Rl. Benavente, however, allegedly did not have an ownership interest in Lot E.A. 167-Rl at the time, and, in fact, the document was a forgery.

The indictment also referenced another incident on or about May 27, 2019, when Benavente provided another person with a preliminary title report that showed he had title to Lot No. 093 E 24 but the document was also an alleged forgery.

Kimberly Bautista | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.
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