The federal court granted yesterday the request of Rota Mayor Efraim M. Atalig and his girlfriend, Evelyn Atalig, to postpone the jury trial in their case.
The trial was originally set to start on June 4, 2019; the new trial date is Oct. 1, 2019.
At a brief pre-trial conference, U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona vacated the jury trial and set the new date.
The Ataligs, who are both in Manila, the Philippines, right now, appeared by telephone at the conference.
Manglona earlier granted their request to appear via telephone.
The court-appointed counsel for Efraim Atalig, David George Banes, informed the court last Tuesday that the mayor just went through open-heart surgery in in the Philippines.
In Efraim Atalig’s request to appear by telephone, Banes said the mayor needs to undergo rehabilitation treatment and physical therapy thrice a week and will not be able to return to the CNMI to attend the pre-trial conference.
Efraim Atalig also joined in Evelyn Atalig’s motion to postpone the jury trial.
Banes and Evelyn Atalig’s court-appointed counsel, Steven Pixley, appeared in court yesterday. Assistant U.S. attorney Eric O’Malley, who appeared as counsel for the U.S. government, did not oppose the trial’s postponement.
The Ataligs have been charged with wire fraud, theft concerning programs receiving federal funds, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and federal funds theft. Each of them faces a separate charge of false statement.
They have pleaded not guilty.