Defendants In CNMI Rebate Scam Consent To Transfer Trial To Oregon

The 3 defendants were indicted by a grand jury on several counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud

By Raquel C. Bagnol 

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, August 04, 2016) – The three defendants arrested in Oregon for forging CNMI tax rebate checks have submitted letters of consent to transfer the venue of the trial to the U.S. District Court of Oregon.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell H. Lorfing submitted the consent to transfer the case for plea and sentence of Brooke K. Phillips, Larry M. Tagabuel and Kenatis M. Alafanso, and requested that the federal court clerk transmit copies of the consent letters to Oregon District Court.

In her consent letter signed on July 20, 2016, Phillips said she has been informed that an indictment is pending against her in the District Court for the NMI and she wishes to plead guilty to at least one of the offenses charged. She also consents to the disposition of the case in the District of Oregon, and waives trial in the NMI.

Alafanso signed her consent letter on July 15, 2016 while Tagabuel signed his on July 18, 2016, echoing Phillips’ request to transfer the case for plea and sentencing to the District Court in Oregon.

The three defendants through their court-appointed counsels earlier filed separate motions for transfer of venue under the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedures 21(b) which provide for the transfer of the proceedings “to another district for the convenience of the parties, any victim or the witnesses in the interests of justice.”

The defendants stated that they all reside in Oregon and Vancouver, Washington state, thousands of miles away from Saipan and just a few miles away from the District Court of Oregon.

The defendants said they cannot afford to travel to Saipan as the plane tickets alone for the trip would cost $2,000 or more each, plus accommodations, transportation and daily expenses.

The three defendants were indicted by a grand jury on May 5, 2016 on several counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The prosecution said they reproduced counterfeit CNMI tax rebate checks and deposited over $54,000 into their bank accounts which they then withdrew from August to December last year.

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