Human Trafficking Sentences

January 10, 2008

In April 2006, the owners and several employees of the former Four Star Corp. and Stardust Club were arrested and charged with 226 counts of prostitution, immigration fraud, human trafficking, unlawful exploitation of a minor harboring an illegal alien and other offenses. Finally, this week as reported in a Marianas Variety story, the four were sentenced by the Superior Court. They signed a plea agreement with the CNMI government and were convicted for hiring minor girls from the Philippines and forging their names on birth certificates. The sentences were incredibly light. According to the Saipan Tribune:

David M. Atalig and his wife Corazon R. Atalig, owners of Four Star Corp. and Stardust Club, signed a plea agreement with the government.

David Atalig pleaded “no contest” to one count of immigration fraud, while Corazon Atalig pleaded “no contest” to four counts of aiding, abetting, and encouraging illegal entry.

The employees-Nilda Maniego and Priscilla D. Rulloda-pleaded “no contest” to one count of harboring of an illegal alien. Maniego and Rulloda are sisters of Corazon Atalig. The remaining charges against the defendants were dismissed as part of the agreement.

With respect to David Atalig, Wiseman set the sentencing for Feb. 14, 2008. He directed the Office of Adult Probation to conduct a pre-sentence investigation and submit the report one week prior to the sentencing date.

The plea agreement in David Atalig's case provides for a sentence within the range of two to five years in prison subject to a pre-sentence report and hearing. The agreement also provides for a probation period of up to three years.

In Corazon Atalig's case, Wiseman sentenced her to 364 days in prison for all counts, to run concurrently, with two days credit for time already served.

“There is no fine in as much as the parties are resolving a companion civil matter before the Director of Labor which involves substantial compensation or payment by defendants. Furthermore, Star Four Corp. and Stardust Night Club shall cease as ongoing business concerns in that same administrative proceeding,” the judge said. With respect to Maniego and Rulloda, Wiseman suspended the imposition of sentence and placed the two on probation for three years.
The plea bargain forgave 226 counts of prostitution, human trafficking, unlawful exploitation of a minor, and harboring an illegal alien. Where is the justice for the victims? But then again, in the CNMI the guest workers cannot even serve on a jury even though they make up a significant number, if not a majority, of the adult population. Where is the justice in that?



Anonymous said...

While no one wants to see anyone victimized or enslaved, but it is important to understand some real facts and to know that the worst examples used to extrapolate this problem into a magnitude that is not realistic or accurate.

The first thing to do is to understand trafficking and sort through the terminology that has been purposefully generated, misused and conflated. Such terms include sex slaves, child sex slaves, modern day slavery, trafficking, sex trafficking etc. All these terms are run together and used very loosely by govt and media alike with little or no accountability as to whether or not they really apply on a case-by-case basis. The media has gone bananas conflating terminology and sensationalizing because sex sells and gets ratings up. Most media outlets get thier data from another media source (likely without verifying it) so its become a self perpetuating exaggeration.

Some prefer to interpret prostitution and trafficking as the Bush administration. Secretary Rice has come out in condemnation of prostitution in countries where it is legal and then had to retract her comments. Confusing prostitution with trafficking is not accurate and was not the intent when Congress passed the law in 2000 because the federal govt has no Constitutional basis for regulating prostitution which has always been a state law matter.

If you follow most of the trafficking cases in the US, you will find that people are charged with trafficking but rarely charged or convicted with slavery. This distinction means means that force or restraint was not used. The definitions in the law do not require force or restraint to qualify for trafficking. Most poeple do not know that because the public has been decieved by the govt.....again. Recruitment for commerical sex is enough to qualify for trafficking. A federal defense attorney friend of mine says the state licensed brothels in technically illegal under the federal trafficking laws, but the DOJ has not chosen (yet) to pursue it....because it would bring to light the misuses of the program and the overly broad of the definitions in the law. It would likely result in a judge stricking the law down as too broad and unconstitutional.

In late November 2007, the State dept finally admitted that they have had a great deal of trouble finding real victims. They estimated 50,000 victims each year into the US back in 2000. In 8 years now, they have found only 1100 total which is less than 0.25% of what they should have found. The Washington Post was one of the few media outlets that covered it. Most big media companies have made TV specials about it where they take the worst examples. The media cannot admit the problem is overexaggerated now because they have a return on their investment to obtain. The govt does not want to admit it either because there are too many bureacrats making 6 figure salaries off of this bubble. I find it odd that the media never mentions anything about the over estimated numbers in their specials. It is factual. The govt has included the estimated number of ALL prostitutes in its trafficking numbers....that is why the numbers are so large.

This sort of trick is not new. THe History Channel ran a special about the history of prostitution....which was legal in the US up until the early 1900s. At that time, a bunch of religious nuts cooked up a problem where they said white women were being enslaved in brothels in big cities. You have to remember that segregation was legal then too. They went to Congress and got everyone upset and enacted Congress to inlist the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Yes the FBI got its first big purpose chasing prostitutes in New York. The FBI shutdown the brothels and interviewed the women. And low and behold, they could not find any enslaved women (or very very few), but they got the law on the books anyway...which was thier goal. Recently, govt bureacrats realized that it worked before....lets do it again.

This not to say that there are no vicitms. Surely there are, but in most cases, what we have here is a govt (with media and special interest group help) using a lot of smoke and mirrors as an excuse to regulate consenual adult prostitution because there are some who think "I think its wrong therefore it should be illegal".

Unheard No More said...

Thank you for your comment. I am not talking about legal prostitution or consensual sex. I am talking about trafficking minors and young women from Asia, primarily the Philippines, who have been recruited to work as “waitresses” or as dancers and once they get to the islands have been forced to perform sex acts, dance naked, or forced into prostitution. Many have been locked in their barracks, had their passports taken, and have been threatened. I personally know some of the women and what happened to them was against their will and not consensual. I have held some of these girls and women in my arms as they wept.

Please read the testimony of a woman who was a victim of human trafficking. She testified before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on February 7, 2007. Also, please read the testimony of Lauri Ogumoro who runs Guma Esperanza a shelter for trafficked and abused women.

Anonymous said...

Wendy, I can't go into who I am or what job I have, but I was involved in the case, and know for a fact that the victims were consulted about the plea agreement, and were happy with the results. They are in the courtroom when the judge took the pleas, and were more concerned about getting their back wages then seeing the defendants locked up. It is important to realize that sometimes justice is done not by locking people up and throwing away the key, but by giving the victims a voice, and what they ask for- in this case, money.

Site Administrator said...

Thank you for your comment and for sharing that information.


Anonymous said...

I know this comment is quite late however I knew two sisters who worked in Starlite one intimately, it is true the girls were abused it was well know, the girls did not like it however they put up with it because of thier famailies and thier families expectations, its a sad fact of life but the families are the real instigators of this perverse situation. Pretense they are working as domestics.