Ataligs’ jury trial to begin on Aug. 11

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FOLLOWING a status conference on Wednesday, District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona set the jury trial of Rota Mayor Efraim Atalig and co-defendant Evelyn Atalig for Aug. 11, at 10 a.m.

Judge Manglona at the hearing also addressed the Rota mayor’s request to determine if Dennis Mendiola can invoke and has a valid basis for asserting his Fifth Amendment privilege if he is called to testify at the trial.

The judge appointed attorney Bruce Berline to represent Dennis Mendiola and ordered the clerk of court to reach out to the lawyer to schedule an in camera hearing.

Judge Manglona at the same time  denied Mayor Atalig’s request for a witness to testify via teleconference.

But Mayor Atalig’s attorney, David Banes, may renew the motion after information has been verified, the judge said.

She noted that the parties have agreed to a jury of 12 with four  alternates.

For his part, Evelyn Atalig’s attorney, Steven Pixley, will identify a Chamorro interpreter by July 31.

Judge Manglona told the parties that the joint witness list is due on Aug. 3.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric O’Malley said it may take two to three days for the prosecution to present its case.

Banes and Pixley stated that the defense may take five to seven days to present their case.

The Ataligs are accused of arranging CNMI government funded trips to California, Palau, Guam, and Saipan from Feb. 2018 to Aug. 2018.

A superseding indictment charged the Ataligs with conspiracy, wire fraud, theft from program receiving federal funds, and two counts of false statements.

In CNMI Superior Court, Mayor Atalig was charged with  misconduct in public office.

He is accused of taking government funded per diem and salary compensation to attend a Republican campaign rally on Guam on June 23, 2018.

The cases against his seven co-defendants — former or current Rota resident directors — have already been resolved through plea agreements.

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