HONOLULU, Hawaii - One of Hawaii’s most prominent defense attorneys is enjoying a small victory after District Court Judge Richard Puglisi ruled on Wednesday in favor of his client, Felina Salinas.
Michael Jay Green told Balitang America that Salinas has no intention of leaving Hawaii as argued by federal prosecutors. Her church community is where she spends most of her time.
Salinas, who was charged with cash smuggling and accessory after the fact, no longer has to wear an electronic monitoring device that she has been ordered to have on since being indicted on February 14.
“She’s just an outstanding woman and an outstanding representative of the church,” said Green.
Salinas, the Hawaii representative of the Philippine-based Kingdom of Jesus Christ Church led by Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, faces federal charges that could send her to prison for up to five years.
On February 13, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers conducted an inspection at Honolulu airport of a private plane leased by Quiboloy.
Salinas, who was with Quiboloy and two other passengers according to the criminal complaint, was arrested after CBP officers found more than $350,000 and 9,000 Australian dollars in her luggage.
“The portion of whether she knew that there was that money in the luggage, whether she packed the money, is a whole different thing that will come out in the trial. She didn’t load the luggage aboard the plane. No, it’s not her money,” Green said.
The lawyer said that as far as he knows, the money belonged to the church.
“We’re not gonna get into the fact of who’s gonna claim the money. It wasn’t the pastor’s money. But at some point in time when we go to trial, my sense is that someone will come forward and claim that it was their money that they were sending back to the Philippines for church purposes,” he added.
Salinas was also charged with accessory after the fact for helping a person with the initials “AQ” avoid arrest and prosecution, according to the indictment.
Quiboloy’s lawyer has insisted that his client was never specifically named in the indictment and that the Davao-based pastor was never a subject in any case in Hawaii.
“We’re filing a motion, it’s called a motion to suppress evidence. We’re saying the government made an illegal search and they had no right to ask her questions at the time they did, they violated certain constitutional rights that she has. That’s what we’re doing,” Green said.
If the case goes to trial, the date has been set for April 2, 2019.
Read more on Balitang America.