Jurors start deliberating in Ada trial

Prosecutor: Ada sharing with partner in crimes

A federal jury began yesterday afternoon deliberating whether or not Leyda I. Ada is guilty or not as to the charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering, money laundering, and perjury.



The jurors will continue their deliberations today, Thursday.

The deliberations commenced after the prosecution and the defense completed their closing arguments.

In the U.S. government’s closing arguments, Assistant U.S. attorney Garth Backe told the jurors that they presented sufficient evidence to find Ada guilty of all charges.

Backe said the key issue in this case is Ada’s knowledge in her husband Melvin’s scheme to perpetrate healthcare fraud.

Showing documents in the monitors, Backe said that, on June 17, 2014, Ada obtained a business license from the Department of Finance for a sole proprietorship with “MMS, CNMI.”

The prosecutor then presented documents how checks for payments of purchases of supply for MMS from CHC ended up in Melvin’s mailbox.

Backe said Ada used the business license to open a business savings account at First Hawaiian Bank in the name of “Leyda I. Ada dba MMS, CNMI” on Oct. 1, 2004.

The prosecutor said 53 Treasury checks in total amount of $1.7 million made out to “MMS” ended up in that FHB savings account that Ada helped to open.

Backe said of $1,941,291.25 that Melvin stole, $1,060,650 was directly transferred to the couple’s accounts.

Backe said that’s not evidence that Ada was kept in the dark or was tricked by Melvin.

“That’s called sharing with partner in crimes,” he said.

Backe also pointed out that the couple made $400,000 in ATM withdrawals.

He also cited that Ada issued numerous checks to Golden Poker from 2005 to 2007.

Backe also showed several checks, bank records, and other documents as evidence that immediately after Melvin stopped reporting to work at the Commonwealth Health Center on July 5, 2011, he and Ada, assisted by others, conducted a series of financial transactions to conceal the proceeds from the healthcare fraud and embezzlement.

Backe showed documents and cited witnesses’ accounts regarding the couple’s closed out of six bank accounts at three banks between July 5, 2011 and August 11, 2011.

He said that on July 5, 2011, the couple made 16 ATM withdrawals from five bank accounts.

Backe said it’s to cover up so Melvin transferred the ownership of four cars in one day to Ada’s family members and relatives.

Backe said the next plan was to transfer the couple’s businesses.

For the perjury charge, the prosecutor said in her attempt to get court-appointed counsel, Ada filled out a form given by the U.S. Probation Office that she was not employed at that time.

Backe said it was a lie because at that time when she was arrested, Ada was the chief executive officer of Island Trendz.

The prosecutor said Ada also checked a box indicating that she did not have any cash on hand or money in savings or checking accounts, when in fact, she had $4,000 in cash in her personal clothing drawer at her house and had access to two bank accounts at First Hawaiian Bank.

In Ada’s closing arguments, defense attorney Mark Hanson said the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of all charges.

Hanson said in this case, since Ada is the wife of Melvin, she got to be guilty.

“You could be guilty because you’re the wife,” Hanson said. “Leyda Ada didn’t know anything.”

Hanson said as he predicted in the beginning of the trial, no person knew that Melvin was stealing close to $2 million from Finance, through CHC.

Citing the testimony of all U.S. government’s more than 30 witnesses, the defense counsel pointed out that not one of them knew that Melvin was stealing money.

On numerous ATM withdrawals, Hanson said Melvin had access to Ada’s account.

Hanson asked why the prosecution did not call any witness that Ada went to the postal box to pick up checks.

On the perjury charge, Hanson said it was an innocent mistake on Ada’s part.

Hanson said when Ada signed the form, she could not think well because she was arrested at that time.

Hanson showed a painting that has a drawing of a shark named Melvin.

“Remember Melvin the shark,” said Hanson in concluding his arguments.

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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