CHICAGO (jGLi) – The United States District Court in Las Vegas, Nevada granted Tuesday (Feb. 7) the motion of Marissa Tadeo Lapid, the wife of Philippine Senator Lito Lapid, for “additional time (to) conduct legal research and factual investigation” of the $50,000 bulk smuggling filed against her by the U.S. government.
Magistrate Judge Peggy A. Leen reset the preliminary hearing last Tuesday (Feb. 7) at 4 p.m. for April 9, 2012 also at 4 p.m. at Courtroom 3B in the U.S. District Lloyd D. George Federal Courthouse in Las Vegas.
Natalie Collins, spokesperson of the U.S. Attorney’s office in Las Vegas, provided this reporter a two-page order issued by Judge Leen, saying, “denial of this request would result in a miscarriage of justice, and would deny the parties reasonable time necessary for effective preparation, taking into account the exercise of due diligence.
“The Court grants this request for continuance on the basis of finding that the ends of justice served by this continuance outweigh the best interest of the public and defendant in a speedy trial and indictment.”
Eliot F. Krieger of Jarvis, Krieger & Sullivan based in Long Beach, California and its affiliated law firm in Las Vegas, The Bach Law Firm, represented by Michael L. Mascarello, retained by Mrs. Lapid, agreed to a joint stipulation with United States Attorney Daniel G. Bogden, represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Chu, that the preliminary hearing last Tuesday (Feb. 7) at 4 p.m. “be vacated and continued to a date and time convenient to this Court, but not less than 60 days from the date currently set for the preliminary hearing.”
The postponement of the preliminary hearing that will determine probable cause would enable the defendant to seek “additional time to conduct legal research and factual investigation of the allegations set forth in the Complaint. In addition, the parties seek to conduct negotiations that may resolve this case.”
The additional time granted “is excludable in computing the time within which defendant must be indicted pursuant to the Speedy Trial Act,” according to the order.
OUT ON US$500K BOND
If the preliminary hearing pushes thru, it is very likely that there is no longer grand jury indictment, which is conducted privately in determining probable cause findings.
Attorney Krieger told this reporter that although Mrs. Lapid is out on a $500,000 property bond, she could not leave the perimeter of Clark County, which encompasses Las Vegas, without a court’s permission.
Mrs. Lapid was questioned when she arrived at a port of entry in Las Vegas airport last Nov. 27, 2010 when she failed to disclose that she was bringing into the U.S. more than $50,000 in U.S. currency and more than 10,000 Philippine pesos ($356.00) in violation of U.S. dollar anti-smuggling law (Title 31, U.S. Code, Sec. 5332) that calls for a maximum five-year sentence and a fine of $250,000 and criminal forfeiture of the seized money.
There is really nothing wrong with bringing in or out of the U.S. more than $10,000 for as long as the bearer will declare the actual amount and can prove the legitimacy of the source of the money.
The pending case against Mrs. Lapid would likely clear up her U.S. immigration status. When Mrs. Lapid waived her Miranda rights by cooperating to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), she told CBP’s Albert G. Giangregorio, Special Agent for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), that she was applying “as a Lawful Permanent Resident” upon her entry.
But Atty. Krieger told this reporter that when Mrs. Lapid entered the U.S. last Nov. 27, she was a holder of “Green Card.”
But what comfounds Mr. Krieger is that why Mrs. Lapid was released by CBP authorities shortly after her arrival without any charges.
When Mrs. Lapid returned to the Philippines, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security invited her back to Las Vegas, Krieger said. “She was free to come and go until Jan. 5th (2012) when she returned to Las Vegas when charges were filed against Mrs. Lapid. We will vigorously and aggressively defend her rights.”
A complaint of “probable cause affidavit” unsealed by the U.S. District Court of Nevada in Las Vegas showed that on Nov. 27, 2010 after Mrs. Lapid “presented a completed and a signed CBP Form 6059B, she stated she was not carrying currency or monetary instruments over $10,000 in U.S. currency or a foreign currency equivalent.”
When pressed again by CPB Officer Johnson, Lapid admitted she had additional 10,000 Philippine pesos (US$356.00).
“I SCREWED UP” SAYS THE WIFE OF THE SENATOR
The affidavit said that when Johnson “unzipped the baggage,” it led to the discovery of two socks containing $10,000, totaling $20,000, and one cloth bag containing an additional $20,000 “concealed beneath the bag lining.”
The discovery “represented an additional $40,000 over Lapid’s written and verbal declarations.” When asked what the additional money was for, Mrs. Lapid responded, “I’m sorry … It’s for my house.”
CPB officers seized the “$50,000 from Lapid in violation of bulk smuggling regulations and remitted the remaining $439 back to Lapid for humanitarian purposes.” (firstname.lastname@example.org)