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By Cherrie A. E. Villahermosa

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Feb. 13) – Eight suspected copper wire thieves arrested over the weekend by the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Department of Public Safety and Attorney General Investigation Unit were brought to Superior Court for a bail hearing yesterday morning.

The seven adult defendants and one juvenile appeared before Associate Judge David A. Wiseman.

Assistant Attorney General Mike Nisperos requested that the court set bail at US$50,000 for each defendant, which Wiseman granted.

The defendants are Erwin Evence, Jesse S. Peredo, Sumang Riungel, Jason Mad, Gloyd Martin, Fanis Denziro and Sylvan A. Pua.

They were all remanded to the custody of the Department of Corrections.

The minor suspect was remanded to the custody of the Division of Youth Services.

The defendants were ordered to return to court on Feb. 21 for a preliminary hearing.

The arraignment was set for March 5

[PIR editor’s note: According to a Feb. 9 story in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, copper wire thieves in Honolulu have been facing relatively light sentencing because under the state’s law, the value of the copper stolen often constitutes a misdemeanor. The cost of repairing damage due to thefts, however, can be very high. Copper wire thefts have reportedly been on the rise around the world because the value of copper has more than doubled in recent years.]

The police report stated that the defendants were arrested by the Department of Public Safety Thief Apprehension Select Coalition and the Attorney General Investigation Unit on Friday and Saturday.

Acting Department of Public Safety spokesman Sgt. Thomas Blas Jr. said that warrants were obtained for the arrest of the suspects on Friday and the execution of these warrants commenced on Friday evening.

Department of Public Safety said on Jan. 15, Thief Apprehension Select Coalition personnel were conducting a random check at the Triple Star Recycling Center in As Perdido when they encountered the minor suspect in possession of wire stuffed inside a green duffle bag.

The minor later admitted that the wire was stolen from the municipal council office in Chalan Kanoa behind the U.S. Post Office.

The minor also identified his two companions as Evence, 31, and Peredo, 19.

The minor was arrested on Friday afternoon at his residence in Gualo Rai while Evence was arrested at his residence in Susupe on Friday night.

Peredo was arrested at the Susupe Basketball Court on Friday night.

Department of Public Safety said on Jan. 10, Commonwealth Utilities Corp. personnel called police and reported that several power lines were stolen from the water well sites in Sadog Tasi area.

The suspects made away with an undetermined length of power line.

Police said the incident caused a major disruption as the water wells provide water to numerous residents in the area.

Police said Commonwealth Utilities Corp later confirmed that almost the whole northern sector, including Capital Hill, Puerto Rico, Tanapag and Sadog Tasi, experienced water shortages due to the theft.

The Attorney General Investigation Unit and Thief Apprehension Select Coalition later identified the suspects as Riungel, 39, Mad, 21, Martin, 31 and Denziro, 48.

They were all arrested at their residences on Friday night.

On Sept. 9, 2006, Commonwealth Utilities Corp reported a theft at the water well sites along the airport just east of the tower.

An estimated 450 feet of power line was stolen and two water wells were rendered useless after the suspects also stole the drop lines leading to the wells.

A police investigation disclosed that the responsible persons for this incident were Riungel, Martin and Sylvan A. Pua, 44.

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com


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