US court grants Lapid’s wife holiday break in PH

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04:35 AM December 31st, 2012

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December 31st, 2012 04:35 AM

Sen. Lito Lapid and his wife Marissa

PORAC—The wife of Sen. Lito Lapid has managed to come home for the holidays here,

her first visit since she was arrested by the United States Department of Homeland Security in Las Vegas, Nevada, for not declaring $40,000 in cash she was carrying when she entered the US in November 2011.

Marissa Tadeo Lapid, 55, arrived at 11:01 a.m. on Dec. 23, records of the Bureau of Immigration showed.

Two relatives of the senator said Marissa was back but they did not know how long she would be staying in the country. They asked not to be named because they feared being barred from the Lapid clan’s New Year gathering.

Case ‘still ongoing’

An Inquirer source at the US Embassy said that as of November, the case against Lapid was “still ongoing, with negotiations.” The source, however, declined to provide details.

Another source, a volunteer at St. Catherine Parish in Porac, said Marissa attended Mass

on Christmas eve, where she gave away coupons for packs of rice, canned goods and instant noodles that she distributed to residents the following morning.

On Saturday night, Marissa hosted a party for some 40 employees of her various businesses.

According to relatives, Marissa limited her activities to these.

They said she never left the family mansion on a 29-hectare property Porac town proper.

Lapid did not reply to calls and text messages on Sunday inquiring about his wife’s holiday furlough or the status of her case in the US.

Under American law, foreign travelers who fail to declare amounts of more than $10,000 face a sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

Money for house repair

Marissa had told authorities she was going to use the money to repair her house in Las Vegas. Lapid, however, said his wife was going to pay for medical checkup and treatment for a neck bone ailment.

Marissa’s US-based lawyer, Eliot Krieger, did not return calls from the Inquirer on Sunday.

The US government has placed a lien on Marissa’s Las Vegas property to cover her $500,000 bail, restricted her movements to Clark County and made her wear an electronic bracelet on her ankle to monitor her movements and location.

The real estate website, Blockshopper, listed two Las Vegas properties in Marissa’s name and her son Maynard. These are at 7304 Bugler Swan Way and on 2055 Buffalo Drive.

Lapid said his wife had the means to travel with that amount of money because she operated many businesses.

Inquirer interviews with some of her employees as well as residents of Porac town showed that Marissa owns MTL Enterprises, which runs a hardware store, ice plant, farm supply shop, mini mart and drugstore in the town. She also owns several properties in Porac’s upland villages. Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon

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