U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona has denied a notary public’s request to withdraw his guilty plea to an indictment that charged him with lying in a U.S. passport application.
At a motion hearing that adjourned Wednesday evening, Manglona said a review of all evidence shows that Liang Li pleaded guilty knowingly and voluntarily.
According to the minutes of the hearing, the judge ruled that, based on the totality, Li failed to give a fair and just reason for withdrawing his plea.
Li will be sentenced today, Friday, at 1:30pm.
When asked if she plans to issue a written decision, Manglona said the record will suffice and that the ruling stands but she intends to support this with a written decision.
At the hearing, defense counsel Janet H. King called Li to the witness stand.
Assistant U.S. attorney James Benedetto, counsel for the U.S. government, called to the witness stand Li’s previous counsels, Rene Holmes and Mark Scoggins.
Last April 3, Li pleaded guilty to lying in a passport application but then filed a motion on Aug. 8 asking the court to allow him to withdraw his plea.
He alleged that his former lawyer pressured him to take the plea offer by giving him less than a day to consider it, telling him he had no chance of winning if he went to trial, and threatening him with prison time if he did not accept the offer.
In the U.S. government’s opposition, Benedetto asserted that the allegations are patently false.