By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA
Special to Philippines Today
LAS VEGAS (jGLi) – Marissa Tadeo Lapid, the wife of Philippine Senator Manuel “Lito” Lapid, was given another 90 days “to conduct legal research and factual investigation” for her defense of the $50,000 bulk smuggling filed against her by the U.S. government.
Instead of appearing for preliminary hearing on April 9, 2012 in the Courtroom of the U.S. District Lloyd D. George Federal Courthouse in Las Vegas, Nevada before Magistrate Judge Peggy A. Leen, Mrs. Lapid was granted by Judge Leen last March 29 her second request for extension of her preliminary hearing on July 9, 2012 at 4 p.m.
In a copy of an order obtained by this reporter, Judge Leen said the Court is granting “this request for continuance on the basis of finding that the ends of justice is served by this continuance [that] outweigh the best interest of the public and defendant in a speedy trial and indictment.”
Leen added “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.”
Ms. Lapid had earlier sought additional time to conduct legal research and factual investigation of the allegations set forth in the Complaint. “[O]nce these investigations have completed, the parties will conduct negotiations that may resolve this case and save judicial resources.”
Lapid’s defense counsels Michael L. Mascarello and Eliot F. Krieger had earlier moved to vacate the April 9 4 p.m. preliminary hearing, which U.S. Attorney Daniel G. Bogden and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Chu did not object.
Mrs. Lapid is out on bond on a secured $500,000 property at the 2000 Block of S. Buffalo Drive, Las Vegas, Nevada under the name of Edgar Manalansan Guiao.
If she does not appear at the hearing, the property will be forfeited in favor of the U.S. government.
She is subject to a Radio Frequency monitoring to limit her movement within the Clark County in Las Vegas.
If she violates the conditions of her release, she will be issued a warrant of arrest, ordered detained, her bond forfeited and a prosecution for contempt of court could result in imprisonment, fine or both.
COMMITTING ANOTHER FELONY WOULD PUT HER IN DEEPER TROUBLE
If Mrs. Lapid commits a federal felony offense, the punishment is an additional prison term of not more than ten years and for a federal misdemeanor offense. The punishment is an additional prison term of not more than one year. The sentence will be consecutive, not concurrent, to any other sentence she receives.
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.
But Atty. Krieger told this reporter that when Mrs. Lapid entered the U.S. last Nov. 27, she was a holder of “Green Card.” Ms. Lapid was released by U.S. Customs Border Patrol (CBP) authorities shortly after her arrival without any charges.
Soon after Mrs. Lapid returned to the Philippines, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security invited her back to Las Vegas. When she did on Jan. 5th (2012), she was charged with bulk smuggling.
When she entered the U.S. on Nov. 27, 2010, 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).
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)