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Alepuyo collected fees from guest workers

By Raquel Bagnol

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Oct. 9, 2008) – For approving applications of guest workers in exchange for a $30 or $50 fee, an employee of the Department of Labor processing section has been sentenced to two years jail term, but all suspended.

Janel Alepuyo, 30, entered into a plea agreement and pleaded guilty to the charge of exploitation of a position of authority yesterday.

She was represented by her lawyer Viola Alepuyo. Assistant Attorney General Joseph DLG. Taijeron represented the government.

Associate Judge David A. Wiseman said prior to accepting the plea agreement, the court requested the government to state on the record any mitigating circumstances that would persuade him to accept the agreement.

"The court stated its reluctance to accept a plea agreement with no actual jail time to be served in cases that involve serious illegal acts committed by government employees while working," Wiseman said.

He later accepted the plea agreement after the prosecution stated that it would serve the best interest of the government.

Janel Alepuyo will be placed on supervised probation for two years, pay a fine of $500 at a monthly rate of $50 beginning Nov. 2008, and pay an assessment fee of $25. She will also pay a probation fee, the amount of which will be assessed by the Office of Adult Probation.

She is ordered to obey all CNMI and federal laws.

The judgment of her conviction will be vacated two years after the date of the change of plea hearing.

The court said failure to comply with the conditions "shall constitute a violation of the terms and conditions of the suspended sentence and shall subject Alepuyo to revocation proceedings."

Wiseman set the review hearing for April 15, 2009 at 9 a.m.

The charges against Janel Alepuyo stemmed from the affidavit filed by Immigration Investigator Erwin Flores who disclosed that the defendant was involved in bribery for immigration gain, and exploitation of position of authority.

Records showed that Alepuyo approved four nonresident contract applications from May 2007 to Jan. 2008 as a favor to a cooperating defendant.

The cooperating defendant would submit a nonresident worker application which Alepuyo would approve in exchange for money.

The cooperating defendant stated that Alepuyo received $30 and $50 from Raymond Cadagat, Natalya Deryabina, Dolores Agana and Sheryl Gonzales.

The Attorney General’s Office charged Alepuyo with one count of dismissal upon conviction.

According to the AGO, Alepuyo "shall be subject to dismissal from such employment upon conviction of any offense and may not be employed for a period of 10 years after such conviction."

Alepuyo entered a not guilty plea when arraigned in May this year.

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