Federal judge OKs release of alleged leader of group of workers at casino project


The federal court has allowed the release to a third party custodian an alleged leader of a group of Chinese workers, mostly illegal workers at the Imperial Pacific International’s ongoing casino and resort project in Garapan.

At a detention hearing on Thursday late afternoon, U.S. District Court for the NMI Magistrate Judge Heather L. Kennedy denied the U.S. government’s motion for detention of Wencai Guo pending trial.

Kennedy ordered that Guo be released to the custody of Changxue Tang, the third party custodian, and that he post a secured bond of $10,000.

Kennedy ordered the U.S. Marshal to keep Guo in custody until notified by the clerk or judge that he has posted bond and/or complied with all other conditions for release.

After hearing the parties’ arguments, the magistrate judge stated that she was persuaded that location monitoring and home detention in this case would reasonably assure the appearance of Guo and that she would impose some conditions.

Preliminary hearing will be on April 20 at 3pm.

At the hearing, U.S. Probation Officer Gregory Arriola addressed two concerns regarding Tang as third party custodian. Arriola said Tang does not speak English and the other concern is the work schedule.

Arriola said if Guo is at work, the monitoring device is only able to monitor his movements within his residence.

Attorney Robert T. Torres, the privately hired counsel for Guo, said his client would be ready to post a $5,000 cash bail.

Assistant U.S. attorney Eric O’Malley, counsel for the U.S. government, opposed the release of Guo, asserting that the defendant is a flight risk.

Guo and Xiufang Qi, the other alleged leader of the second group of Chinese workers at the casino/resort project, are from Beilida Overseas (CNMI) Ltd. Qi’s detention hearing was held on Friday afternoon.

Qi and Guo were stopped from leaving the CNMI at the Francisco C. Ada- Saipan International Airport last April 5. The two were allegedly bound for China.

The two were arrested on charges of unlawful employment of aliens and bringing in and harboring certain aliens. Separate complaints containing the same charges were also filed against four others: MCC International project manager Yuqing Zhao, Beilida Overseas president and director Hui Lu, Beilida’s Hongwei Ma, and MCC electrician Pei Ruan.

MCC International is the construction contractor for Imperial Pacific International. Beilida Overseas is a subcontractor of MCC. The Garapan offices of the two companies were searched by the Federal Bureau of Investigation recently.

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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