Thief to stand trial for swiping poker player's wallet

A criminal case was filed last week in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) against a 22-year-old man who has been accused of stealing a poker player's wallet and then demanding payment for its return, reported the Saipan Tribune yesterday.

After listening to witness testimony and the arguments of each lawyer in a hearing on Friday, Superior Court Associate Judge David A. Wiseman found probable cause that Cook Sepeten Ham stole a poker player's wallet containing $235 on February 11, 2006, while the victim was playing poker at Wild Orchids Poker.

Police said the poker player's wallet fell to the floor and was promptly stolen by Ham, who immediately fled the poker house. Several days after the theft, the victim said someone contacted him and demanded he pay $50 for his wallet and identification cards, and then failed to show up for their rendezvous.

Approximately two weeks later, on February 13, 2006, Ham was arrested in an unrelated matter by police. While searching him, they found the poker player's stolen wallet and identity cards.

Ham was ordered to appear at his arraignment yesterday at 9 a.m. No additional details have been released.

Editor's Note: CNMI is located in the South Pacific Ocean about three-quarters the way from Hawaii to the Philippines. An island territory, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands is joined in a political union with the United States and retains an independent government and constitution. The territory consists of 14 different islands, of which Saipan, Rota, and Tinian are the largest. As of July, 2005, its population was counted at 80,362.

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