10 Oct 2003

Tinian Senator jailed for 2 years for conspiring to defraud government

12:04 pm on 10 October 2003

A former Tinian senator, Jose Dela Cruz, has been sentenced by a US District Court judge to a 24 month jail term in federal prison for conspiring to defraud the CNMI government.

Dela Cruz's sentence, which is lighter than the 63 months received by his former colleague and co-defendant, Ricardo Atalig, came after a plea agreement where he owned up to the conspiracy charge.

The court dismissed 26 other wire fraud charges against him at the prosecution's request.

The court ordered Atalig, Dela Cruz and Dela Cruz's daughter Marjorie to jointly pay restitution of nearly 40 thousand US dollars to the CNMI government.

The court found that Atalig and Dela Cruz entered into a scheme to defraud the CNMI government by providing fictitious jobs in favour of their relatives, with the former hiring the latter's daughter as a community worker in his Saipan office from late 2000 until October 2002.

At the time, she was actually studying at the University of Guam.

The arrangement resulted in the transfer of government payroll money amounting to some 39, 663 dollars in salary, health benefits, life insurance and retirement fund contributions to Marjorie's account.