Judge orders final distribution of $19.3M to Mangabao estate


Superior Court Associate Judge Kenneth L. Govendo has ordered the final distribution of the $19.3 million paid by the CNMI government to the heirs of the estate of Maria Mangabao, its administrator, and lawyers.

The government paid the Mangabao estate $3 million on March 3, 2017, and a little over $16 million on Aug. 18, 2017—for a total of $19.3 million over the taking of the estate’s land in Chalan Kanoa in 1993.

In a decree of final distribution, Govendo ordered the payment to the lawyers and the estate administrator first, then equally divided the remaining funds to the three identified heirs of the Mangabao estate: $5,335,216 each to the estates of Vicente Rangamar, Visitacion Rangamar Flores, and Ramona Rangamar.

The law firm of O’Connor, Berman, Dotts & Banes and the estate of Edward Arriola shall get $3 million, representing their claim against the Mangabao estate for legal fees.

Mangabao estate administrator Ramon A. Tebuteb shall receive $250,000, representing payment for nearly 15 years of service to the court and the estate and for reimbursement of fees paid to the law firm of Smith and William for legal services provided to the estate.

Berline & Associates LLC shall receive $30,000 representing legal fees for the probate and administration of the estate, while James R. Stump shall get $11,312.50 representing legal fees for services provided to the estate, according to Govendo.

Govendo heard Tebuteb’s petition for final distribution last Dec. 22. Tebuteb appeared with his counsel, Benjamin K. Petersburg.

The administrators for the estate of Vicente Rangamar, Visitacion Flores, and Ramona Rangamar appeared with their counsel, Vicente DLG Torres.

Julia Seman objected to the distribution, asserting she has an interest in the distribution of the estate. Govendo denied her claim.

Last July, Superior Court Judge Pro Tempore Alberto C. Lamorena ordered the CNMI government to pay the Mangabao estate $16.3 million by Aug. 18, 2017.

Lamorena said the amount represents the outstanding principal and interest the CNMI government owed that will have accrued by Aug. 18, 2017.

The judge issued the order after the parties in the Mangabao’s lawsuit submitted in court a stipulated payment plan. Assistant attorney general Charles E. Brasington, counsel for the government, submitted the stipulated payment plan.

Last June, Lamorena commended the CNMI government for making a payment of $3 million to the heirs of the Mangabao estate, but ordered the government to begin paying the remaining over $15 million balance to the heirs within 30 days.

According to court records, the CNMI and the Mangabao heirs agreed to the taking of land consisting of 6,000 square meters in 1993 and a judgment of $4.2 million.

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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