The trial of Rota Mayor Efraim Atalig and his co-defendants will be pushed back and may be held in January 2020, but the date is still subject to approval by the Superior Court.
During a hearing last week, the prosecution requested the court to push the jury trial for Atalig and resident directors back to January 2020 because the Office of the Attorney General’s Robert Charles Lee would be prosecuting another case involving an alleged murderer.
Presiding Judge Roberto C. Naraja previously set the jury trial for Atalig on Sept. 9, 2019, which is concurrent with the CNMI vs. Alfonso Sebastian Parongan jury trial that may take several weeks to complete.
The defendants and their lawyers had no objection to Lee’s request except for assistant public defender Heather Zona, who represents Rota Department of Public Works resident director Vanessa Charfauros.
Zona objected on the grounds of speedy trial but the other lawyers for the defendants reportedly have no schedule conflicts in January 2020, according to Lee.
The date for a jury trial is still under discussion and remains subject to approval by the Superior Court. A hearing is scheduled for July 2.
According to court information, Charfauros and Atalig’s co-defendants are 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.
Mesngon has already pleaded guilty and will not stand trial. She agreed to participate in an adult diversion program under the CNMI Adult Probation Office.
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.