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By Steve Limtiaco

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, May 4) - Former Republican Sen. Marilyn Manibusan, who has been in a federal prison since September 2003 after being convicted of extortion, conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering and bankruptcy fraud, is scheduled to be resentenced May 17 on Guam.

A new sentence was ordered in February by a federal appeals court, which determined that federal Judge Alex Munson improperly increased her sentence.

Manibusan is expected to have at least 20 months taken off from her original 71-month sentence, based on a pre-sentencing report recently prepared by the U.S. Probation Office. The report calls for a sentence of between 41 and 51 months.

Her attorney, Curtis Van de Veld, yesterday said he disagrees with that calculation and said Manibusan's sentence should be much shorter -- between 27 months and 33 months.

If he is able to convince the judge to accept that sentence, Manibusan could be free in less than a year because she already has served almost 22 months.

"Under any set of circumstances, she will receive a reduced sentence from what she was originally sentenced to," Van de Veld said.

Manibusan was brought back to Guam last month for her resentencing hearing and currently is being held at the Department of Corrections facility in Mangilao.

Manibusan has been serving her sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, Calif., which is a low-security prison for women located 20 miles southeast of Oakland.

Her conviction stems from official misconduct that occurred between 1997 and 2000, when Manibusan was Guam Territorial Land Use Commission chairwoman and accepted thousands of dollars from real estate developers in exchange for approving their projects.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on February 16 rejected Manibusan's original sentence of 5 years and 11 months and ordered her to be resentenced.

The appeals court's ruling was guided by a January U.S. Supreme Court decision which concluded that the same standards used to convict a person should also be applied when that person is being sentenced.

According to court documents, Manibusan's attorney at the time, Sandra Lynch, successfully argued that the Guam district court made a mistake by grouping various crimes together for sentencing purposes and by enhancing Manibusan's sentence for her role as an "organizer, leader, manager, or supervisor" in the criminal activity.

The appeals court determined that Manibusan's constitutional right to a trial by jury had been violated during her sentencing.

"Because defendant's sentence was imposed under the system of mandatory guidelines, the enhancement of her sentence based on facts found only by the judge, by a standard less than a reasonable doubt, violated the Sixth Amendment," the appeals court decided.

Manibusan is to be released from prison in October 2008 unless her sentence is changed.

May 5, 2005

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