US govt provides Mayor Atalig with over 5,000 pages


The U.S. government has provided over 5,000 pages of documents to Rota Mayor M. Atalig, who is facing a wire fraud case.

As this developed, Atalig, through counsel David G. Banes, requested the U.S. District Court for the NMI to give him more time to review the materials.

Banes moved the court to continue the trial to Oct. 30, 2018, instead of the Oct. 16, 2018, that is currently set.

The lawyer also asked the court to re-set to Oct. 10, 2018, the deadline for filing pre-trial motions instead of Sept. 19, 2018 that is currently set.

Banes said majority of the 5,000 pages of documents were produced just recently after the last status conference and merely a week before the current deadline for filing pretrial motions.

He said there might be additional discovery according to the prosecution.

Given the large volume of documents produced in discovery and the fact that a large part of the events underlying the charge occurred outside Saipan (either on Rota or on Guam), and many potential witnesses do not live on Saipan, more time is needed for trial preparation, Banes said.

The preparation, he said, includes document review, interviews of potential witnesses, investigation of facts, and collection of evidence.

Banes said he has already talked with the lawyer for the U.S. government, who stated he would not oppose the continuance.

A federal grand jury indicted the 58-year-old Atalig after he allegedly arranged a government-funded trip from Rota to Guam for himself and 12 others, including eight municipal employees, on an allegedly false claim that he was going to check for surplus equipment here when he actually went to participate in a partisan political rally last June 23 in Mangilao.

The indictment charged the mayor with only one count of wire fraud. He had pleaded not guilty.

Atalig is facing another case that the Office of the Attorney General filed before the Superior Court arising from the same political rally.

In the Superior Court case, Atalig and seven other Rota municipal officials are being charged each with theft and misconduct in public office. Their arraignment will be today, Sept. 28, on Rota.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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