Finance staff arrested for allegedly embezzling $2,500

OPA files 50 charges; defendant allegedly posted on Facebook she’s relocating to Houston

A Department of Finance employee was arrested yesterday morning after an Office of the Public Auditor’s investigation showed she allegedly embezzled $2,500 that was paid by a client of the Members Home Loan.

Ana Castro Cepeda, 46, was taken to Superior Court yesterday afternoon on 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.

The initial bail was $25,000 cash, but Associate Judge Kenneth L. Govendo granted the request of assistant public defender Matthew Meyer to reduce bail and release Cepeda to a third-party custodian, among other conditions.

Assistant attorney general Matthew Baisley, as counsel for the government, did not object.

Govendo allowed Cepeda to post $500 cash and $4,500 in unsecured bond. The judge found Cepeda’s husband, retired Department of Public Safety police officer Edward Cepeda, as a suitable third-party custodian.

Arraignment will be on Oct. 26.

In response to Govendo’s concern that Ana Cepeda posted on Facebook prior to her arrest that she is planning to relocate to Houston, Texas, Edward Cepeda said he would not allow her to leave without the court’s permission.

Meyer pointed out that Ana Cepeda turned herself to the police upon being informed of the case.

OPA chief investigator Juan Mafnas Santos stated in his report that Ana Cepeda stole a total of $2,500 in payments made by Members Home Loan client Fermin Sakisat from May 6 to Aug. 31, 2015.

Santos said the OPA’s investigation started last Sept. 25 after Finance Secretary Larissa Larson and the NMI Retirement Fund comptroller turned over information about theft of funds involving an MHL client’s payment.

Santos said that Cepeda received the payments in the form of cash but she posted them as check.

At that time, Santos said, the Fund comptroller discovered $1,000 in payments for July and August 2015 that were missing.

Larson and the Finance acting manager/enforcement and regulatory branch manager also provided information that when called into Larson’s office, Ana Cepeda admitted that she took the money and used it for her own personal use.

The OPA investigator said the Finance comptroller disclosed last Oct. 7 that he discovered that $1,500 more was missing.

Santos said that Ana Cepeda prepared and received Sakisat’s payments but the funds were not deposited with the Bank of Guam as reflected in the bank statements.

The OPA investigator said that Sakisat first made the $500 cash payment on May 6, which was stamped received by Cepeda at Finance.

Santos said Sakisat made the second payment of $500 cash on May 20, and third $500 cash on July 13, another $500 cash on Aug. 14, and finally another $500 cash on Aug. 31.

Santos said he received information that Cepeda posted on Facebook that she will be relocating to Houston anytime soon.

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

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