By Ferdie de la Torre

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Dec. 31) – Convicted businessman Bert Douglas Montgomery has been sentenced to 20 years in jail for his role in the conspiracy to defraud Bank of Saipan.

U.S. District Court Judge Alex R. Munson imposed a 60-month jail term for one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, two counts of wire fraud, and one count of wire fraud: deprivation of honest services.

Munson also sentenced Montgomery to 240 months imprisonment for one count of money laundering conspiracy, and three counts of money laundering.

The judge said upon release from jail, the defendant will be placed on three years of supervised release.

Munson said the sentences will run concurrently for each count, meaning Montgomery will serve a total of 20 years and will be placed on three years of supervised release.

Munson directed the defendant to pay jointly with co-defendants $5,273,643 in restitution to Bank of Saipan and $209,980 to Michelle Hom, a bank customer.

The judge also ordered Montgomery to pay $800 in court assessment fee and perform 400 hours of community work service.

Munson said the 20-year sentence is appropriate considering the seriousness of the crimes and their economic effect to Bank of Saipan, its customers and the local community.

Montgomery begged for a lenient sentence so he could re-pay the bank and the community.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Smith recommended the imposition of 20 years against Montgomery, whom he described as "heartless."

Bruce Berline, counsel for the defendant, recommended a 10-year jail term, saying that his client is already 65 years old. Berline said Montgomery did not profit from this matter and that it was his first criminal case.

According to the prosecution, Montgomery and co-defendants Tomas B. Aldan and Dusean Berkich conspired to fraudulently obtain ownership and control of Bank of Saipan and then made a series of fraudulent loans for the purpose of enriching themselves and their associates.

Berkich committed suicide last August while Aldan will be sentenced in 2004.

December 31, 2003

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