Department of Finance resident director Josepha Barcinas Manglona, who is among the seven co-defendants of Rota Mayor Efraim M. Atalig in a corruption case in the CNMI Superior Court, pleaded guilty yesterday.
This developed as Efraim Atalig and his girlfriend, Evelyn Atalig, asked the U.S. District Court for the NMI yesterday to sanction Federal Bureau of Investigation special agent Haejun Park for misconduct.
Efraim Atalig and Evelyn Atalig, through their lawyers, David G. Banes and Steven P. Pixley, said that Park had an ex parte communication with the defendants’ expert witness and committed witness tampering.
Banes and Pixley said the Ataligs filed a joint motion last March 6 to add an expert witness, Dr. Gregory Vecchi, a former special agent with the Office of the Inspector General. Efraim Atalig and Evelyn Atalig, through their counsels, said they intend to call Vecchi as a witness regarding interviewing techniques and reporting involved in a criminal investigation.
Two days later, on March 8, Vecchi received a call from Park, Banes and Pixley said. They said Park started the conversation by reminding Vecchi that they had served abroad years ago and talked about their previous assignments together before revealing that he was the case agent in this case.
The lawyers said Park gave Vecchi the impression that the prosecution has a strong case and made negative remarks about the defense investigator, who is a former FBI special agent.
Manglona, 57, signed a plea deal with the government and pleaded guilty to the charge of misconduct in public office, which is a misdemeanor—an offense punishable for a period of not more than one-year imprisonment.
Presiding Judge Roberto C. Naraja accepted Manglona’s guilty plea and ordered the imposition of the sentence to be suspended for six months.
Manglona was placed on supervised probation for six months, ordered to pay a fine, court costs, and probation fees to be determined by the Office of Adult Probation.
She was ordered to pay restitution to the CNMI government in the amount of $938 by way of payroll deductions in the amount of $100 per pay period.
Manglona was required to cooperate with the Office of the Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney’s Office and tell the truth if called upon to testify in this matter and in the federal case.
Manglona will be granted immunity.
According to the factual basis of the plea agreement, on June 1, 2018 to Aug. 30, 2018 on Rota, Manglona improperly accepted per diem and rental car payments and took administrative leave for days when she was not traveling on government business.
Efraim’s four co-defendants are Dean Manglona, Eusebio Manglona, Josepha Manglona, and Dennis Mendiola. Dean Manglona, Eusebio Manglona, and Dean Manglona have not resolved their case.
The remaining three co-defendants—Vanessa Charfauros, Magdalena Mesngon, and Dexter Apatang—have already disposed of their cases by plea agreement.
The bench trial will be on March 20.
In the Superior Court case, Efraim Atalig and the seven co-defendants are charged with misconduct in public office in connection with the Guam political rally.
In the federal court case, the charges against Efraim Atalig 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 charged jointly 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. The jury trial will commence this Wednesday.