Saipan – A CNMI lawmaker accused of smuggling endangered and federally protected fruit bats into Saipan is considering a plea deal to avoid trial.
The Saipan Tribune reports that Rota Sen. Juan Ayuyu and the U.S. government informed the U.S. District Court for the NMI about the plea agreement negotiation during a motion hearing Tuesday.
The U.S. government originally charged the senator with one count of conspiring to violate the Endangered Species and Lacey Acts, one count of violating the Endangered Species Act, and one count of violating the Lacey Act.
The indictment alleged that on Oct. 17, 2010, Ayuyu and Ryan Manglona conspired to conceal eight dead Mariana fruit bats (underneath 40 lbs of lemons inside a cardboard box in an attempt to transport the box to Saipan on a Freedom Air flight.
Aside from the fruit bat case, the senator is also facing two related criminal charges—obstruction of justice and unauthorized cell phone use while in jail.
Ayuyu has been in detention since Dec. 17, 2012.
His trials remain currently set for July 23 and 29.