By Alexie Villegas Zotomayor
The U.S. government, through Assistant U.S. Attorney Garth R. Backe, has filed a superseding indictment against a former Rota Customs officer and a former Division of Fish and Wildlife staffer relating to an alleged poaching of fanihi on Rota in 2008.
The superseding indictment charges former Rota customs officer Albert A. Taitano and former Division of Fish and Wildlife staffer David A. Santos with one count of conspiring to unlawfully take and transport a threatened species, and one count of taking a threatened species, one count of transporting a threatened species taken in violation of law.
Santos and Taitano are to forfeit to the U.S. all wildlife taken or possessed in violation of the Endangered Species Act and its regulations and all firearms and other equipment used to aid the taking or possessing of wildlife in violation of the Endangered Species Act and its regulations.
The defendants will also surrender a Mossberg .410 gauge shotgun with serial number P076708 and a Remington .410 gauge shotgun with serial number R129099H.
The superseding indictment states that the defendants “knowingly” and “willfully” conspired and agreed together and with others known to the grand jury to unlawfully take and attempt to take a threatened species, and to possess, deliver, carry, transport and ship a threatened species which had been unlawfully taken — the Mariana fruit bat or Pteropus mariannus mariannus
It also further indicated that on or about Nov. 1, 2008, defendants Taitano and Santos traveled to the land claimed by the Ogo family on Rota to hunt Mariana fruit bats or fanihi.
On or about Nov. 1, 2008, dead fanihi were transported away from the land claimed by the Ogo family in vehicles belonging to one or more members of the conspiracy.
These, the superseding indictment pointed out, were all in violation of 18 U.S.C. §371, 16 U.S.C. §§1538(a)(1)(G) and Title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, §§17.21(a), (c), 17.31(a).
The defendants, the superseding indictment said, did knowingly and unlawfully take and attempt to take a threatened species, fanihi, in violation of 50 C.F.R. §§17.21(a), 17.21(c), 17.31(a), an offense pursuant to 16 U.S.C. §§1538(a)(c)(G) and 1540(b)(1) and 18 U.S.C. §2.
It was also stated that the defendants “did attempt to unlawfully possess, deliver, carry, transport, and ship, a threatened species, to wit: Mariana fruit bat (Pteropus mariannus mariannus) which had been taken in violation of 50 C.F.R. 17.21(a), 17.21(d), 17.31(a), an offense pursuant to 16 U.S.C. §§1538(a)(1)(G) and 1540(b)(1) and 18 U.S.C. §2.