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FBI agent’s disciplinary record to be turned over to Ataligs

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THE disciplinary record of a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent will be turned over to the defense lawyers of Rota Mayor Efraim Atalig and co-defendant Evelyn Atalig, according to a recent order of District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona.

But the judge denied the Ataligs’ other request, which is to direct the U.S. government to give them the witness interview notes of FBI and Office of the Public Auditor agents.

In a joint motion to compel the production of the interview notes, the Ataligs, through their attorneys David Banes and Steven Pixley, said the “interview summaries and reports prepared by the FBI and the OPA materially misrepresent what was said by the witnesses interviewed.”

The defense lawyers added, “As an independent ground for production, the interview notes constitute material exculpatory evidence.”

They also said that there “is reason to believe that the interview notes, if taken truthfully by the agents, will reveal…other misrepresentations in the FBI and OPA reports and summaries.”

For his part, Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric O’ Malley asked the court to review several documents and decide which, if any, must be disclosed to the defense.

O’Malley provided Judge Manglona with two reports.

The first described the disciplinary record of an agent who investigated the case.

Judge Manglona find that under “United States v. Henthorn, 931 F.2d (9th Cir. 1991), the [U.S.] government must turn this information over to the defense.”

But she ordered the parties to keep the information sealed.

The second report consisted of field notes that the investigating agents wrote while interviewing the defendants.

The judge, in her order, said “the court has reviewed the agents’ field notes and did not find any material inconsistencies with the witness reports. Nevertheless, before making its ruling, the court will first allow defendants an opportunity to be heard on the record.”

At the hearing on Wednesday the Ataligs appeared via teleconference.

Pixley, who represents Evelyn Atalig, cited established legal ruling and stated that the “agents’ notes should be reviewed if there is reason to believe that the notes are materially different from the memoranda.”

But Judge Manglona disagreed and denied the joint motion to compel production of interview notes.

The Ataligs’ trial is scheduled for March 10, 2020 at 10 a.m.

Mayor Atalig and Evelyn Atalig were charged with conspiracy, wire fraud, theft from program receiving federal funds, and two counts of false statements.

They were accused of arranging CNMI-government funded trips to California, Palau, Guam, and Saipan under fraudulent pretenses.

In Superior Court, Mayor Atalig and seven of his resident directors were accused of taking government- funded per diem and salary compensation to attend a Republican Party rally on Guam on June 23, 2018.

Presiding Judge Roberto Naraja has rescheduled the jury trial of the Rota officials from Jan. 13, 2020 to March 30, 2020.

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