Phan, 2 co-defendants beg for shorter prison terms


Businessman David Trung Quoc Phan and his two co-defendants have asked the federal court for shorter sentences after being convicted of bringing Bangladeshi men to Saipan on promises of good-paying jobs and green cards in exchange for cash.

Phan and brothers Muksedur Rahman and Rafiqul Islam will be sentenced tomorrow, Friday, at 9am, in the U.S. District Court for the NMI.

Phan, Rahman, and Islam filed Monday and Tuesday their sentencing memorandum and objections to the presentence investigation report prepared by the U.S. Probation Office.

The U.S. Probation Office had recommended a prison sentence of 41 months for Phan. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, on the other hand, recommended a prison sentence of 46 months.

Phan, through Steven P. Pixley, said these sentencing recommendations are unnecessarily punitive and does not consider all the factors pertinent to sentencing.

Pixley said slapping the 54-year-old Phan with a lengthy jail term is not appropriate or required.

Pixley said Phan, who was born in Vietnam, has no criminal history, fled Vietnam in 1975 when Saigon fell, has three children, and graduated from Bob Jones University in South Carolina with a degree in Bible Studies.

Phan’s brother, businessman Ta Bun Kuy, describes him as a “kind and pious man.”

Kuy stated that Phan “is also trusting and this sometimes leads him to trouble.”

Pixley said Phan is clearly “really not bad” as even the workers (victims) testified that he has a “big heart,” and that they begged him to renew their CW-1 visas and that he was helping them and he renewed their visas.

Defendant Rahman, through counsel Robert T. Torres, maintained that when all the factors for enhancements are appropriately calculated, the low-end sentence of 87 months or the lowest arrived-upon final guidelines range is sufficient and no greater than necessary to achieve the ends of justice with the sentencing statute.

Torres said a sentence of 87 months promotes respect for the law as it sends a message that such persons suffer the consequences of such offenses—a long jail of over senen years, deportation from the U.S. and loss of employment.

Torres described the recommendation of the U.S. Probation to impose 108 months on Rahman as “most extreme” and the U.S. government’s recommendation of 135 months as “more draconian.”

Rahman first came to the CNMI in 1996 where he worked as a farmer on Tinian for three years, and has been lawfully employed since then.

Rahman moved to Saipan, where he worked as a sanitation worker for six years in a trash and collection and recycling service.

He started training as a welder for Bali Steel and then moved to Tano Group. He last worked for GPPC as a welder for five years.

Torres said while at GPPC, Rahman worked on various projects, mostly recently the Aircraft Rescue Firefighting Facility training structure mock-airplane made out of heavy-gauge metal.

When he lost his work with GPPC after this case started, Rahman could not work legally so he had to support himself and his family with the cattle he raised and ultimately slaughtered and sold.

Rahman has no prior conviction and has no pending criminal charges.

Rafiqul Islam, through counsel Bruce Berline, said a sentence of one year and one day imprisonment is sufficient.

Berline said the record indicates that the 38-year-old Islam played a minor role in the fraudulent scheme at the center of this case.

Berline said now that Islam has been separated from his wife and two young children who have returned to Bangladesh, he realized none of the benefits he expected from a higher-paying job as a welder on Saipan.

He said Islam has suffered from the pressure and stress of the criminal case and from watching his family suffer.

Islam’s daughter was born just before the trial began last year and his wife and two children have returned to Bangladesh without him.

Berline said that Islam’s financial situation is so bad that, without any work, he is unable to purchase insulin to treat his diabetes.

The lawyer said as a non-citizen, Islam doesn’t qualify for any public assistance programs.

Last Oct. 18, a federal jury found Phan guilty of two counts of mail fraud, three counts of fraud in foreign labor contracting, and one count of fraud and misuse of visas and permits.

Phan’s co-defendants, Rahman and l Islam, were also convicted.

Phan’s fiancée, Analyn Nunez, and Rahman’s wife, Shahinur Akter, were acquitted. Another defendant, Zeaur Rahman Dalu, already pleaded guilty.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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