Lawyer: Grand juries almost always end in indictments
At the request of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the U.S. District Court of the NMI has subpoenaed the records custodian of Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC to appear at the court on Jan. 30, 2020, to testify before a grand jury.
The subpoena—issued last Nov. 6—commanded the unnamed records custodian of IPI to provide any communications between any owners, executives, or employees of IPI and Gov. Ralph DLG Torres discussing, directing, or summarizing cash transactions and/or donations to the Friends of Ralph organization or to any other political campaigns on or after Sept. 1, 2013.
Among the documents sought are records relating to land lease or purchase agreements involving IPI and the governor, his brothers—Vincent DLG Torres Jr., Victorino DLG Torres, and Joaquin DLG Torres—or their spouses that resulted in the transfer of funds; cash deposits or transactions made by IPI to the governor and his brothers and their spouses; references of any financial transaction undertaken by members of Torres Brothers LLC for the benefit of the governor, his brothers, and their spouses.
It also sought any communications between IPI involving Ron L. Anderson and/or Alfred Chi-Yam Yue aka Alfred C. Yue relating to or discussing the transfer or exchange of anything of value; documents and records relating to tickets, notes, receipts, and any other items relating to domestic and international travel of the governor, his brothers, and their spouses paid for by IPI, including hotel stays, plane tickets, car rentals, and ground transportation; and documents relating to communications between IPI and the governor regarding discussions on the operation of IPI’s casino or other properties on Saipan, its financial obligations to the CNMI, and its tax obligations and payments or non-payments to the CNMI.
A federal grand jury is a panel of 16 to 23 people that are randomly selected and ultimately decides whether there is a case to be pursued through an indictment, or a formal charge of a crime. Grand jury proceedings are typically kept secret.
“It requires that person or individual [summoned] to appear before the grand jury to testify or to provide documents,” longtime Saipan lawyer Steve Pixley told Saipan Tribune in an interview. “They basically decide whether or not to issue criminal charges on an individual [or corporation]. It’s a pretty one-sided situation.”
The grand jury, according to Pixley, is a unique process because individuals who go in to testify are not allowed to do so in the presence of an attorney with them.
“Attorneys can stay outside the grand jury room and give advice, but attorneys are not allowed inside to provide advice in the room,” he added.
Only the U.S. attorney and the U.S. assistant attorney are allowed inside the grand jury room, according to Pixley. He further noted that the proceedings of the grand jury couldn’t be reported nor attended by the public.
Citing his professional experience, Pixley said that grand juries almost always end in indictments.
Saipan Tribune learned last week that search warrants were executed at Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’ house and office; the office of Alfred Yue of Marianas Consultancy Services LLC, a consultant for IPI; Legend Realty Saipan; and the Torres Brothers’ law office.