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SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, July 24) – Today’s detention hearing of Joseph U.R.M. Elibosang in the U.S. District Court of Guam has been vacated after the suspect in the theft of memorial brass plates in Asan did not file any objection to the court detention order.

Elibosang, 24, is now in a federal detention facility after the district court asked the local jail to provide the suspect, detained earlier for trial court charges.

A stipulation signed by Elibosang’s lawyer, Federal Public Defender John Gorman, asked the federal court to vacate the scheduled detention hearing, which was granted by Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood.

Elibosang is charged with theft of government property for selling 23 brass plates to a recycling center.

A grand jury hearing is scheduled for Thursday. The owner of the recycling company which bought the brass plates from Elibosang is expected to provide documents of the recycling firm.

Based on these documents, the jury will determine if there is a probable cause to charge Elibosang.

The 23 bronze plates were among the 34 missing brass plates secured to the wall of the Asan Memorial Park. Each metal plate has a value of more than US$1,700 but Elibosang sold it to Xiong’s Family Recycling Center for US$3 per kilo.

Each plate is about 18 kilos and was sold for US$54 each.

FBI special agent William Kline stated in the complaint that the name plates bearing the names of Guam citizens and U.S. service men and women who lost their lives during World War II are property of the United States National Park Service, a federal government agency.

According to Kline, an employee of the Park Service, Rose Manibusan, contacted the Guam Police Department on July 5, 2007 to report the theft of 34 bronze name plates.

GPD officers distributed flyers describing the plates to metal scrap yards on Guam.

On July 6, GPD officials received information from an informant that several of the pieces of the missing brass plates were sold to Xiong’s Family Recycling Center.

A search at Xiong’s Family Recycling Center yielded seven plates which were stolen from the Asan Overlook.

According to the recycling firm’s records, the person who sold these plates on July 2, 2007 provided a vehicle registration receipt for a 1993 Toyota Tercel which was registered to Valerie Ngirdimau.

Ngirdimau was contacted and told investigators that her uncle, Henry Elibosang, had possession of the Tercel for several months.

When GPD contacted Henry Elibosang, he said his nephew, Joseph Elibosang, was driving the vehicle.

Later that day, Joseph Elibosang was located and was questioned by GPD’s Criminal Investigations Section.

During the investigation, Joseph Elibosang admitted to selling the plates and others to Xiong’s Family Recycling, adding that he had sold approximately 23 of the brass plates since June 26, 2007.

Some of the plates were shipped by the recycling firm to Hong Kong. Four plates, which were part of the earlier shipment, arrived in a Hong Kong shipyard on July 13 and were immediately seized by FBI agents.

Fifteen or more panels are expected to arrive in Hong Kong today which are expected to be seized by authorities and will be later turned over to FBI agents.

Elibosang, who was earlier charged in the Superior Court with theft by receiving with a special allegation of crime against community, criminal trespass and criminal mischief, will return to the district court on July 24 at 9:30 a.m. for a detention hearing.

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