CNMI Couple Implicated In Foreign Labor Scam Acquitted

U.S. government unable to prove TBK Auto Cares engaged in fraud

By Bryan Manabat

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Oct. 13, 2017) – District Court for the NMI designated Senior Judge John C. Coughenour on Thursday acquitted Analyn Nunez and Shahinur Akhter, who were implicated in a foreign labor scam.

Nunez, a document preparer for United Brothers which is doing business as TBK Auto Cares, was accused of mailing fraudulent CW-1 petitions to U.S. Citizenship Immigration Services.

Her attorney, Janet King, told the court the U.S. government failed to prove its case against her client.

Akter, the wife of defendant Muksedur Rahman, was accused of aiding and abetting his husband in his fraudulent recruitment of workers in Bangladesh.

Akter was represented by attorney Daniel Guidotti on Thursday because her court-appointed counsel, Colin Thompson, was off-island.

Guidotti said there was not enough evidence to convict his client. Before he could finish his arguments, the judge told the lawyer that the court was inclined to grant his motion to dismiss.

In an interview, Guidotti said the judge ruled that the evidence was insufficient as a matter of law, and that the government did not meet its burden to convict Akter.

Attorney Janet King said the “judgment of acquittal means the [U.S.] government failed to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Ms. Nunez committed any of the acts charged in the indictment. Ms. Nunez is grateful for this day, because justice has been served.”

Also on Thursday, Assistant U.S. Attorney James Benedetto rested his case after calling Homeland Security investigator Jesse Dubrall to the witness stand.

Dubrall said he and his co-case investigators executed the search warrant on TBK Auto Cares, Rahman’s house and his vehicle.

Dubrall said they seized receipts, mailing receipts, work certifications, hand-written notes, immigration documents and a note purportedly detailing money transfer to Rahman’s sister in-law.

Dubrall said he also interviewed David Phan, TBK Auto Cares owner and one of the defendants.

Phan, according to Dubrall, stated that he terminated the workers because they could not do the work that they were supposed to do. Phan claimed he did not receive money from the workers, Dubrall said.

Dubrall said he asked Phan if he could assist with the investigation and Phan said yes.

Phan agreed to call one of the persons accused of recruiting the workers and record their conversation.

The person, however, was not identified in court.

The two other defendants are alleged recruiters Md. Rafiqul Islam and Zeaur Rahman Dalu who has pled guilty and has agreed to testify against his co-defendants.

The jury trial will resume on Monday.

Marianas Variety
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