Court approves 2020 trial for Rota mayor

Superior Court Presiding Judge Robert Naraja granted last week the government’s request to postpone Rota Mayor Efraim Atalig’s jury trial to January 2020.

Naraja set the jury trial for Atalig and his co-defendants on Jan. 13, 2020, after finding good cause, saying the continuation is justified.

The court order listed several reasons for the delay but, ultimately, the delay was cited as justified because Atalig is also being tried in the District Court for the NMI. Waiting for another sovereign to finish prosecuting Atalig is without question a valid reason for the delay, according to the order.

“The trial was initially scheduled to begin after the federal proceeding. The trial date in the federal case was recently continued from June 9 until Oct. 1 due to Atalig’s recovery from surgery. Continuing this trial to January 2020 will again allow this trial to begin after the federal proceeding, which was filed before this matter, and will promote judicial economy,” the order stated.

The court also took into consideration the seven other defendants who are involved in the case and that the trial would take place on Rota. Continuing the trial to 2020 would allow the court to impanel a jury on Rota.

Atalig’s co-defendants are Rota Department of Public Works resident director Vanessa Charfauros, Department of Labor Rota resident director Dexter Apatang, Department of Commerce Rota resident director Dean Manglona, Department of Finance Rota resident director Josepha Manglona, Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services Rota resident director Dennis Mendiola, Department of Community and Cultural Affairs Rota resident director Magdalena Mesngon, and former Department of Public Safety Rota resident director Eusebio Manglona.

All the defendants were charged with theft and misconduct in public office by the OAG for taking government funds and salary compensation to attend a Republican campaign rally in Guam in June 2018.

Kimberly Bautista Bautista
Kimberly Bautista is the youngest in the stable of Saipan Tribune reporters. She has covered a wide range of beats, including the community, housing, crime, and education, for the Saipan Tribune.

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