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Court Report

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CASE AGAINST FORMER POST OFFICE EMPLOYEE DISMISSED

The High Court has dismissed the government’s case against a former female post office employee, Lamala Lorraine Tufele, upon the request of the government says Assistant Attorney General Cecilia Reyna.

The government accused Tufele of using her position with the United States Post Office (USPS) to gain access to a package with ATM cards she allegedly used without authorization.

Tufele faced two criminal counts of stealing back in August. When the matter was called before Associate Justice Lyle Richmond and Associate Judge Mamea Sala Jr, the prosecutor and defense lawyer Sharron Rancourt were both called to the bench.

Rancourt confirmed with Samoa News that during the on-the-side conversation before the panel, Richmond granted the government's request. Assistant AG Reyna explained that the reason behind the dismissal is that the government does not have funds to bring down experts to view the video, which the government in their affidavit has as their evidence.

Tufele, a former Federal employee was working with USPS as a mail distribution clerk, mail sorter and customer service clerk.

It’s alleged that last year November, Tufele gained access to mail which contained two Bank of Hawai’i credit cards and personal information of the two complaining witnesses.

Court documents state Tufele’s photo was captured at both ATMs where she allegedly withdrew the money.

WOMAN CHARGED FOR ASSAULTING NIECE

A woman made her initial appearance in the High Court yesterday on allegations that she assaulted her niece with a pipe. Utu Feo is held on bail of $5,000 and is represented by Assistant Public Defender Karen Shelley.

She’s charged with second degree assault and public peace disturbance. The assault count is a class D felony which carries a jail term of up to five years in jail a fine of up to $5,000 or both fine and jail term, while the PPD count is a class C misdemeanor and is punishable up to 15 days in jail a fine of up to $300 or both.

According to the government’s case, on November 16, 2011 police received a call from a 19-year old girl claiming that she was assaulted by her aunt with a pipe.

Police responded to the call and saw the victim, who had a bump on her forehead, bruises on her left arm and right shoulder to her back and also had bruises above her left kneecap. The alleged incident occurred in Aua where the defendant resides.

The girl told police that she ran away from home on Saturday Nov. 12, 2011 and did not return home because she was scared that she would get beaten again.

“She has been wanting to go back to her parents in Samoa but she does not have traveling documents,” according to court filings.

The girl told police, the defendant beat her with a pipe because when her aunt asked her if she wanted to stay with them she said no.

Police spoke with the defendant who admitted to beating the victim with a pipe because the victim had run away from home for four days.

The defendant told police that she knows what she did was wrong.

WOMAN ENTERS GUILTY PLEA FOR PASSING BAD CHECKS

The High Court accepted a plea agreement between the government and Linnea Siaumau charged for passing bad checks. The defendant was initially charged with stealing and passing bad checks, however the defendant pled guilty to passing bad checks while the government moved to have the court dismiss the remaining charge.

Passing bad checks is a class D felony punishable with up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

According to the plea agreement that was read in court, upon the defendant’s guilty plea she admits that she passed seven bad checks and these checks were made out to the various businesses owned by MHJ Development Corporation, Airport Way Gas Station and Halecks Service center.

The checks varied in the amounts from $50 to $100 to the total of $570, but for each returned check there was an additional charge of $25. The defendant admits that she was writing these checks on a closed accounts. Presiding over this matter was Associate Justice Lyle L Richmond who was accompanied on the bench by Associate Judge Mamea Sala Jr.

According to the government’s case, a complaint was filed against Samatua regarding several bad checks that were made out to the Airport Way Gas Station and Haleck's Service Center.

It’s alleged Samatua wrote seven checks totaling $570 between March 16 to 25, 2012. The checks were returned with a ‘Closed Account' notice. Each returned check was then charged a fee of $25 by the payee.

Two demand letters were sent to the defendant on April 3, and July 3, 2012. The government claims Samatua has repaid $200 but a balance of $545.00 is still owing.

Samatua is represented by Assistant Public Defender Mike White, prosecuting is Assistant Attorney General Kimberly Hyde.

TWO MEN ARRESTED FOR ARGUING OVER FOOD

Two men in their 20’s were arrested earlier this week after they argued over food while they were under the influence of alcohol.

According to the police, they received a call from Faleniu, from a woman reporting that her son and her son-in-law who were both intoxicated were about to fight in their house. Police proceeded to the call.

According to police, when the dispatcher notified them via radio she could hear the loud argument from the background while on line with the woman who called the police.

It's alleged that the mother told police, her son approached her son-in-law concerning a comment made by her son-in-law about the son now sharing and offering them food. The police officer said that began an argument between the two men, who made their initial appearance in court.

The government in this case opted not to charge the pair with any criminal count and moved for the court to release the pair while the government conducts more investigation into this matter.



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