3 Sep 2018

Northern Marianas mayor charged with fraud

1:26 pm on 3 September 2018

A Northern Marianas mayor, Efraim Atalig has been charged with fraud after he allegedly lied about the use of public funds for a trip to Guam.

On Friday, the Attorney General's office indicted the mayor of Rota and seven local government officials in connection with a June visit to the US territory.

Rota Mayor, Efraim M. Atalig

Rota Mayor, Efraim M. Atalig Photo: supplied

The official purpose of the Guam trip was to browse for equipment at a naval base but the Attorney General's office said Mr Atalig went to join a political rally in Mangilao instead.

The total costs of the government-funded trip were over $US10,000, including privately chartered flights and per diems.

The defendants are being charged with theft and misconduct in public office and they will appear at the Rota courthouse on September 28.

Mr Atalig, who took office in 2015, will also appear in the US District Court for the Northern Marianas on Tuesday.

No arrests have been made so far.

In March last year, a former Rota mayor Melchor Mendiola was sentenced to six months in prison, all suspended, on charges of removing government property.

The public auditor's office was first asked to investigate the missing items by Mr Atalig.