Jury empaneled for Atalig trial


U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona finished putting together yesterday the jury that will decide the fate of Rota Mayor Efraim M. Atalig and his girlfriend, Evelyn Atalig, who are on trial on corruption charges.

Saipan Tribune learned that Manglona completed the jury selection late yesterday afternoon.

Twelve jurors and four alternates, for a total of 16, were selected.

The parties are expected to make their opening statements today, Friday, at 9am when the trial resumes.

As this developed, Efraim Atalig is questioning why the U.S. government is quashing his subpoenas on the Office of the Public Auditor and the Division of Revenue and Taxation when the two agencies do not object to it.

In his opposition Wednesday to the motion to quash the subpoenas, Efraim Atalig, through counsel David G. Banes, said that OPA and Revenue and Taxation are not complaining that complying with the subpoenas would be time-consuming or oppressive, which means the U.S. government has no standing to move to quash the subpoenas, and should not be allowed to use the motion to force Efraim Atalig to reveal his trial strategy.

Rota Mayor Efraim M. Atalig. (FERDIE DE LA TORRE)

Efraim Atalig wants OPA and Revenue and Taxation to produce certain evidence for the trial.

The prosecution filed Monday and Tuesday motions to quash the defendants’ subpoenas, which seeks the personnel records of Travis Hurst, Edward R. Cabrera, and Juan Santos, who participated in the investigation of this case and may testify as witnesses for the U.S. government.

Manglona will hear the motions today, Friday, at 3:30pm.

Assistant U.S. attorney Eric S. O’Malley said the OAG and OPA have already produced all relevant evidence requested by the defendants’ subpoena to the U.S. government and any responsive material has been provided during the ordinary course of discovery.

O’Malley’s co-counsel in this case is assistant U.S. attorney Garth R. Backe, who said compliance with the subpoenas would be unreasonable and oppressive, and an unwarranted invasion of privacy—a direct violation of CNMI law.

The charges against Efraim and Evelyn Atalig involve at least eight trips taken by the couple at different times in 2018 to Guam, Palau, the U.S. mainland, South Korea, and Saipan.

The Ataligs are being charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and theft from program receiving federal funds, wire fraud, and theft from program receiving federal funds. Both are also charged separately with false statement.

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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