DESPITE PRESIDING OVER CRIMINAL CASE VS IPI EXECS
Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC questions why U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona continues to handle a lawsuit filed by seven former workers against IPI, considering that she has been presiding over a then-sealed criminal indictment against two IPI executives involving the same occurrence as the civil action.
IPI, through Michael W. Dotts, asked the District Court to suspend proceedings in the lawsuit filed by the seven former workers while the criminal indictment against IPI executives is still being resolved.
In the motion on Thursday, IPI also asked the court to vacate all discovery sanctions entered against the company since December 2019.
“The unsealing of the indictment is a significant development and…a stay is a matter of statutory right,” said Dotts when asked for comment yesterday.
Last Tuesday, Manglona unsealed a superseding indictment against three persons, including two IPI executives, who allegedly conspired to hire unauthorized alien workers to work at IPI’s casino/resort project in Garapan.
The indictment charged Liwen Wu, also known as Peter Wu, Jianmin Xu, and Yan Shi, with one count of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act conspiracy, one count of conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens, 32 counts of harboring illegal aliens, 32 counts of unlawful employment of aliens, and five counts of international promotional money laundering.
The scheme allegedly lasted through at least March 2017 and resulted in an influx of more than 600 illegal workers onto the IPI worksite.
In IPI’s motion to stay proceedings last Thursday, Dotts said that IPI had already twice asked for a stay in the lawsuit filed by the seven former workers because it feared that the U.S. government was also doing a criminal investigation against IPI at the same time as this civil matter was being litigated. Dotts said that Manglona has twice dismissed IPI’s fears and denied the motions for a stay.
The lawyer said that IPI learned last Wednesday that it was right all along when a criminal indictment against two of its executives was unsealed, just days before Manglona decides the amount to enter as a default judgment against IPI.
Dotts said Manglona, who presides over this civil matter, has been presiding over the once-sealed criminal investigation since March 2018, a year before the plaintiffs in the civil action amended their complaint to add IPI as a defendant.
Dotts said IPI for the third time, moves for the mandatory stay because Manglona is presiding over a criminal matter involving the same occurrence in this civil action. He asserted that Manglona has no discretion to deny a stay that is mandatory under the statute.