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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

NMI Senator Ayuyu Isolated After Phone Found In Cell
Incident may be added to list of violations in federal cases

By By Andrew O. De Guzman

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Jan. 24, 2013) – Rota Sen. Juan Manglona Ayuyu, 48, has been placed in isolation after a mobile phone was found in his cell following a security sweep at the Northern Marianas Islands Department of Corrections last week, Variety was told.

Sources have confirmed this, but Corrections Commissioner Ramon C. Mafnas has yet to respond to the inquiries of this reporter.

It was not known if Corrections or the U.S. Marshals Service are conducting an investigation as to how the detained lawmaker obtained a mobile phone inside the prison facility.

Variety was told that the incident may be included as another violation in the pending federal cases against Ayuyu.

He used to be "very active" in using the phone inside the local prison facility and had to fall in line with the other detainees or inmates, sources said. Later, Ayuyu no longer used the phone.

U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona ordered his continued detention pending trial after she found "clear and convincing evidence" presented by the federal government that Ayuyu was disregarding the law.

The federal court ruled that no condition or combination of conditions of release would reasonably assure the safety of the persons or the community if Ayuyu was to be released.

Manglona agreed with Assistant U.S. Attorney Garth Backe who said there was a serious risk that the Rota lawmaker would obstruct or attempt to obstruct justice and/or threaten or attempt to threaten witnesses and/or intimidate or attempt to intimidate witnesses.

The former chairman of the Rota legislative delegation and the chairman of the Senate Committee for Public Utilities, Transportation, and Communications, Ayuyu was first indicted for conspiracy to smuggle federally protected Mariana fruits bats from Rota to Saipan on Oct. 17, 2010.

He was recently indicted on seven felony charges that included conspiracy to obstruct justice, witness tampering and the attempted destruction of evidence. Ayuyu was arrested in a poker room on Dec. 17, 2012.

Many of the counts Ayuyu has been charged with carry a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years and fines in excess of $250,000.

Ayuyu has denied the charges and will be tried on Feb. 19, 2013.

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