Phan wants to be kept free while appeal is pending

David Trung Quoc Phan, one of three men convicted for participating in a scheme to bring Bangladeshi men to Saipan on promises of jobs and green cards in exchange for money, is asking the U.S. District Court for the NMI to allow his continued release while his appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is pending.

Phan, through counsel Steven P. Pixley, said he poses no danger to the community.

Pixley said it is highly likely that Phan will serve his entire prison term before the court decides on the merits of his appeal.

Pixley said the U.S. government failed to present sufficient evidence to convict Phan of the offenses of fraud in labor contracting.

In this regard, the lawyer said, it is relevant to emphasize the fact that Phan was not charged with conspiracy.

He said the U.S. government’s case was built upon the questionable testimony of five complaining witnesses.

At trial, Pixley said, each of these five witnesses admitted that they lied to U.S. Embassy officials in Dhaka, Bangladesh. These lies, Pixley said, included the presentation of fake certificates stating that they possessed technical skills, including welding.

He said there was no evidence showing that Phan knew that these witnesses lied about their job skills or that they paid recruitment fees.

Further, Pixley said, Phan did not travel to Bangladesh and did not meet these workers until their arrival on Saipan on April 21, 2016.

Pixley said the workers begged and pleaded with Phan to renew their CW-1 visas, which were expiring on Oct. 18, 2016. The lawyer said one of the five complaining witnesses testified that Phan was a “good guy” who was trying to help them.

He said the complaining witness testified that Phan was “surprised” when was told about the recruiting fees that the complaining witnesses paid to get the jobs.

Last Oct. 18, a federal jury returned a guilty verdict against Phan, Muksedur Rahman, and Mohammed Rafiqul Islam.

Phan was sentenced to eight months in prison, while Rahman was slapped with a 48-month prison term. Islam was sentenced to 18 months of imprisonment.
Phan and Islam appealed to the Ninth Circuit to reverse their conviction and sentence.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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