TINIAN SENATOR MANGLONA GETS 24 MONTHS FOR BRIBERY

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By Lindablue F. Romero

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (Dec. 14, 1999 – Saipan Tribune)---Federal Court Judge Alex Munson yesterday sentenced former Tinian Sen. Herman Manglona to 24 months imprisonment after he was found guilty of accepting bribery and attempting to influence a grand jury.

Mr. Manglona will serve the sentence concurrently for each count. The court also ordered him to pay $15,000 to the Commonwealth, the amount that he raked in during the time he was accepting bribe money from Sablan Construction Ltd., Inc. when he was mayor of Tinian.

The former senator was fined the $15,000 plus a $200 special assessment ($100 for each count). He was placed under supervised release for three years.

In sentencing Mr. Manglona, Judge Munson showed leniency in imposing punishment as he lowered the penalty against the ex-senator from 37 to 24 months because it was his first offense. Manglona took responsibility for his crime and offered substantial information during the investigation.

An emotional Mr. Manglona apologized to the court for committing the crimes, which he said has humiliated his family and betrayed the people of Tinian. Clad in a blue Hawaiian polo shirt, Mr. Manglona was accompanied by his children and other relatives.

Former Gov. Froilan Tenorio was at the court to provide moral support to Mr. Manglona.

"What I did was wrong. I take responsibility for my own action. My crime has affected my family and I made them suffer. I regret what I did," he told the court. He said his case should serve as an example to other government officials not to emulate.

The publicity generated by his case has caused his family mental and emotional suffering, he said. With the sentencing, Mr. Manglona said he hopes this would end the suffering of his family from the prying eyes of the media. His daughters quietly wept as they listened to their father.

The court granted him the privilege to go home and inform his wife, who was not able to attend the sentencing because she recently had a quadruple heart bypass.

While waiting for his trip to the federal prison where he would serve his sentence, Mr. Manglona was allowed to go home on the condition that he would report regularly to the U.S. Marshal.

Mr. Manglona had earlier entered into a plea agreement, which he signed with U.S. Atty. Kevin Seely. In the agreement, he admitted taking bribe money, mail fraud and jury tampering. He pled guilty to the crimes last September 13 and resigned from the Senate the following day.

On August 25, 1999, Mr. Manglona was indicted by a grand jury, the same day that he and his aide James King Manglona were charged with attempting to influence a juror into voting "no" to his indictment. James Manglona later admitted to tampering with the jury and was imprisoned in Guam.

Investigation revealed that Mr. Manglona rented heavy equipment from Sablan Construction "at inflated hourly rates" and billed the CNMI government accordingly. A portion of the payment was secretly paid to him in cash.

Mr. Manglona received the first bribe money in February 1996 when Sablan Construction wrote an invoice bearing the amount of $9,527 for rental of heavy equipment when that actually cost only $8,627. From April to December of 1996, Sablan Construction billed the government $16,997 from which the former Mayor received a commission of $4,623.

During the hearing, lawyer Peter C. Perez, counsel for Mr. Manglona, asked the court's leniency in sentencing his client because he is suffering from cirrhosis of the liver, hypertension and heart problems.

Mr. Manglona is currently unemployed and is supporting a family of 10.

For additional reports from The Saipan Tribune, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Saipan Tribune.

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