By Ferdie de la Torre
In an expected plea deal, Sen. Juan M. Ayuyu (Ind-Rota) pleaded guilty yesterday to two charges relating to the smuggling of endangered fruit bats from Rota to Saipan and, subject to the court’s approval, he will receive a jail term between 33 months and 44 months.
Ayuyu, 48, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Endangered Species Act and conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding.
Under the plea agreement, the U.S. government will drop the remaining charges in the two cases and the entire information in the third case.
Ayuyu will be sentenced on Nov. 8, 2013.
A conviction for conspiring to violate the Endangered Species Act carries a maximum penalty of a six-month imprisonment, while conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
The senator was facing three criminal charges—the fruit bat case, obstruction of justice case, and the cell phone use. The plea agreement covers the three cases.
When U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona asked Ayuyu to tell the court what he did, Ayuyu acknowledged that he committed mistakes.
Attorney David J. Lujan, counsel for Ayuyu in the two cases, noted that his client had prepared a statement of admissions attached to the plea agreement. Lujan then read Ayuyu’s statement. More....