Two lawyers withdraw as counsels for Backman

Posted on Jun 16 2012
By Ferdie de la Torre

Two lawyers have withdrawn as counsels for Chang Ru Meng Backman, who is facing sex trafficking charges in federal court.

Attorneys William M. Fitzgerald and Bruce Berline appeared as retained counsels for Backman during a scheduled arraignment on Thursday afternoon.

At the hearing, Fitzgerald informed the U.S. District Court for the NMI that they were not prepared to proceed with the arraignment.

Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona set the detention hearing and arraignment for Tuesday, June 19, at 3pm.

Backman, 39, was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshal.

On Thursday, Fitzgerald and Berline asked the court to allow them to withdraw from representaing Backman.

Fitzgerald said he had previously discussed the terms under which he and Berline would represent her and she indicated that she was willing and able to comply. In later discussions, Backman allegedly told them that she is unable to comply with the terms.

Saipan Tribune learned that Backman appeared in court yesterday afternoon with a new counsel, Robert O’Connor.

The indictment charged Backman with three counts of sex trafficking by force, fraud, or coercion and three counts of alien smuggling-harboring.

According to the indictment, Backman operated the Holiday Night Club, a karaoke bar on the second floor of a building in Chalan Kanoa. The club also allegedly provided sexual services for an added fee.

Backman allegedly received money from club customers for sexual services performed by women at her direction. Sex acts performed by these women generally took place in rooms where the women lived in a barracks adjacent to the Holiday Night Club.

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