The federal court granted yesterday the request of Rota Mayor Efraim M. Atalig and his girlfriend, Evelyn Atalig, to postpone their trial on corruption charges again to give the Ataligs’ private investigator more time to complete his investigation.
The jury trial currently set for Jan. 8, 2020, will now take place on March 10, 2020, instead.
The pre-trial conference set for Dec. 10, 2019, is continued to Feb 5, 2020, at 1:30pm.
“The court finds that the ends of justice served by granting the requested extension outweigh the best interest of the public and defendants in a speedy trial and will allow defense counsel the reasonable time necessary for effective preparation, taking into account the exercise of due diligence,” said U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona in her order yesterday.
Efraim and Evelyn Atalig, through their counsels, David G. Banes and Steven P. Pixley, respectively, asked for the continuance of the trial, saying their private investigator, former Federal Bureau of Investigation special agent Jeremy Wolfe, needs 30 more days—on top of the originally approved 30 days, for a total of 60 days now—to complete his investigation.
Banes and Pixley said that Wolfe has already conducted substantial work, including interviewing potential witnesses on Rota and Saipan, but still needs time to finish the investigation.
In granting the request, Manglona also ordered that the deadline for filing pre-trial motions is continued to Jan. 29, 2020, and that responses by the opposition party are due on Feb 12, 2020.
Manglona said the U.S. government must file proposed jury instructions by Feb. 13, 2020, and that the Ataligs must file any objections to the prosecution’s instructions, together with any alternative or additional proposed instructions, by Feb. 20, 2020.
The charges against the two involve at least eight trips taken by the Ataligs at different times in 2018 to Guam, Palau, the U.S. mainland, South Korea, and Saipan.
The Ataligs are being charged jointly with wire fraud, theft concerning programs receiving federal funds, and conspiracy to commit fire fraud and federal funds theft.
The Ataligs have pleaded not guilty.
The jury trial has been delayed several times for various reasons.