The Superior Court has ordered the owner of a manpower services company on Saipan to pay a total of $91,832 in default judgment to six Filipino workers for defrauding them of cash in exchange for promised CW-1 visa applications that she never filed.
Superior Court Associate Judges Joseph N. Camacho and Kenneth L. Govendo recently issued separate default judgments against Edita Capilitan Cruz, who operated her business enterprises under various names such as W.E.C. Manpower Services, W.E.C. General Enterprises, W.E.C. Enterprises, W.E. Cruz Catering, Mega Marianas, and Mega Marianas Transport.
Both judgers found Cruz liable to pay complainants Segundo Lapeceros Jr. $10,375.50 in damages and costs; Judy Colorico Araneta $15,668.20 in damages and costs; Restie Ramos Camay $7,544.20 in damages and costs; Geraldine Manabat Sabio $19,468.50 in damages and costs; Emelinda Marcilla Jovelo in $20,108.35 in damages and costs; and Susan Dulva Habulan in $18,668.20 in damages and costs.
The attorney fees for the plaintiffs’ counsels, Jane Mack and Chris Heeb of the Micronesian Legal Services Corp., will be determined later.
Four other separate cases outlining the same allegations against Cruz are pending in court.
The complainants in those pending cases are Jeanet Ma-Ano Bucayo, Eduardo B. Basilio, Jeneta Ciruelos Arceo, and Mercedes Real Abubo. The four complainants, through Mack, are demanding $40,464 in damages and costs.
In the default judgments, Camacho and Govendo said that Cruz was served with the complaints last April and default judgments were entered by the court’s clerk last May after she failed to respond to the lawsuits.
The judges said Cruz advertised, solicited, and recruited potential foreign workers in a scheme to defraud them through illegal and unconscionable fees for promised CW-1 applications that she never filed.
The judges said the complainants were victimized by Cruz’s conduct.
The judges said the plaintiffs have established their claims for breach of contract, conversion, fraud, violation of the Consumer Protection Act’s unfair and deceptive acts and practices provisions, and violation of the Alien and Immigrant Consumer Protection Act’s provisions.
The judges deemed Cruz’s conduct to be “willful and outrageous” and were done with intent to obtain personal and financial advantages to herself.
According to the complaints, Cruz advertised in May 2016 her business as a manpower agency and a service to process paperwork for foreign workers who are seeking work as CW-1 workers.
Cruz’s office was located in Garapan. It had a big sign on the window announcing that her business was hiring. The sign listed several different job occupations for which it was seeking workers.
The plaintiffs allegedly paid between $500 to $1,200 so that Cruz could process their papers and file a petition for them and some family members as her CW-1 workers. The six, except for Camay, Lapeceros, and Jovelo, were promised that Cruz could process their papers and file a petition for them as her CW-1 workers.
Camay was promised the filing of her and her sister’s CW-1 permit petition, while Jovelo was promised the filing of his and his son’s CW permit petition. Lapeceros was promised the filing of his and his wife’s CW permit petitions.
Cruz never filed any petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for the complainants and never paid any of the money back.
As for the four pending cases, only Arceo managed to recover $1,180 out of $2,000 that she allegedly paid to Cruz. Arceo got back $1,180 with the help of the CNMI Department of Labor, where she also filed a complaint.