U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona denied Tuesday the U.S. government’s motion for detention pending trial against MCC International project manager Yuqing Zhao, who is among six persons being charged in connection with unlawful employment of Chinese workers at the ongoing construction of the multi-million-dollar resort and casino project of Imperial Pacific International in Garapan.
At the detention hearing, Manglona said the U.S. government failed to show by preponderance of evidence of flight risk.
Manglona allowed Zhao’s pre-trial release pending trial subject to some conditions.
Manglona said Zhao will be placed on home detention; accompanied by a third party custodian he is allowed to leave his residence to work; submit to location monitoring; not seeking a new passport; and not leaving Saipan without court’s prior permission; observe a daily 5:30pm to 7:30am curfew; among other conditions.
Former representative Chris Leon Guerrero serves as third party custodian for Zhao.
Manglona noted that Zhao, has a CW permit, has no prior criminal cases, and that the charges are not violent offenses, and there is no weapon or drugs involved.
In moving for defendant’s detention, assistant U.S. attorney Eric O’ Malley noted that in Saipan Tribune’s headline Tuesday, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol revealed that there are 1,032 overstaying tourists worked illegally in the CNMI.
“We are not sure who they are and where they are,” O’Malley said.
O’Malley said their concern is there could be a situation when Zhao would remove the monitoring bracelet, someone would purchase plane ticket for him, and he would depart the Commonwealth before the U.S. Probation Office receives a tampering alert.
Defense counsel Colin Thompson said there is no evidence presented to that 1,032 alleged overstaying tourists that worked illegally.
Thompson compared to the movie and TV series Mission Impossible O’Malley’s scenario about removing the monitoring bracelet, going to the airport, and departing the CNMI. Thompson even copied the Mission Impossible famous tune, drawing laughter from the judge and people in the courtroom.
Thompson noted that no one has ever left the CNMI while under the U.S. Probation Office’s monitoring program. He said Zhao was indeed arrested at the airport, but he was not aware of any arrest warrant issued against him at that time.
O’Malley then pointed out that in every Mission Impossible scene, they always accomplished the missions. The comment drew laughter again from the judge some people in the courtroom.
MCC International is the construction contractor for Imperial Pacific. Beilida Overseas is a subcontractor of MCC. The offices of the two companies in Garapan were searched by the Federal Bureau of Investigation recently.
Zhao was arrested on charges of unlawful employment of aliens and bringing in and harboring certain aliens.