U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona denied Tuesday Rota Mayor Efraim M. Atalig’s motion to dismiss the indictment against him. Manglona will issue a written order.
As of press time Tuesday, Saipan Tribune was still waiting for the minutes of the hearing.
Efraim Atalig’s girlfriend, Evelyn Atalig, who is his co-defendant in the case, did not join the motion to dismiss.
On Monday, Manglona denied Efraim Atalig’s and the U.S. government’s joint request to rule on his motion to dismiss the charges against him without holding oral arguments. Manglona cited the importance of the motion for the denial. She pointed out that the parties filed a joint stipulation Monday or less than 24 hours before the hearing, to vacate the hearing and submit the motion on the briefs without any explanation. Instead, Manglona ordered the parties to be prepared for the hearing as scheduled Tuesday.
In their stipulation, Efraim Atalig, through counsel David G. Banes, and the U.S. government, through assistant U.S. attorney Eric O’Malley, said that both have agreed that oral argument is not necessary, unless the court determines otherwise.
Banes and O’Malley requested the court that the motion be decided on the briefs, declarations, and memoranda of law that were previously filed with the court.
In a separate order on Monday, Manglona granted Efraim Atalig’s request to appear telephonically at the motion hearing.
Banes said Efraim Atalig lives on Rota and traveling to Saipan is difficult to coordinate due to limited flight schedules and the mayor’s work schedule.
Efraim Atalig was previously allowed to file his motion to dismiss the indictment under seal.
The jury trial of the Ataligs will commence on Aug. 4, 2020. The trial has already been reset several times for many reasons; the recent one due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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.