Lapid’s wife back in US at bidding of Homeland Security, says lawyer
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Philippines – The wife of Senator Manuel “Lito” Lapid returned to Las Vegas, Nevada, on January 15 at the invitation of the Department of Homeland Security in connection with her bringing $50,000 into the United States last November, her American lawyer said Saturday.
Marissa Tadeo Lapid “came at the invitation of the Homeland Security. She was invited to deal with the issue,” lawyer Eliot Krieger told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in a telephone interview.
His statement clarified reports that Marissa was not aware she had committed a federal offense in connection with the apparent dollar smuggling in November. She was initially held but was allowed to return to the Philippines for the Christmas holidays without any charges being filed against her, the lawyer said.
Marissa’s return to the US this month meant she complied with the invitation, Krieger said. Marissa has been freed on bail, he added.
But Krieger declined to give the Inquirer details of the case when asked why Marissa, 54, did not declare the bulk of the money that authorities found in her luggage in November.
US laws allow foreigners to carry up to $10,000 in cash. They must declare any amount in excess of that under pain of arrest and possible imprisonment for of five years. Violators are fined $250,000 and the money recovered from them is forfeited in favor of the US government.
A report published in the US quoted Marissa as saying that she was going to use the money to buy a house. But Senator Lapid said his wife meant to use the money for treatment of a bone ailment.
The senator said his wife owned the cash, noting that she has the means because she runs several businesses in Porac, their hometown in Pampanga.
Krieger said he would defend Marissa “vigorously.”
“She will have her day in court,” Krieger said, without specifying the dates of Marissa’s court appearance.
He described Marissa as doing well. “She’s been at home,” he added.
The real estate Web site Blockshopper listed two Las Vegas properties under the names of Marissa and her son, Maynard, 27, an American citizen. These are on 7304 Bugler Swan Way and on 2055 Buffalo Drive.
Krieger said the court ordered Marissa to restrict her movements within Clark County.
He confirmed that Marissa wore an ankle bracelet equipped with a GPS (global positioning system) to allow the authorities to monitor her movements.