TWO WOMEN ARRESTED FOR PASSING BAD CHECKS AND EMBEZZLEMENT
The Criminal Investigation Division yesterday arrested two women on two separate cases. Tiilua’ai Fa'amausili is charged with three counts of passing bad checks and three counts of stealing. Each count of passing bad checks is a class D felony which is punishable up to five years in jail a fine of $5,000, a fine equal to twice the amount of gain from the commission of the said crime up to a maximum of $20,000 or both the fine and imprisonment.
Each stealing charge is a class C felony punishable for up to seven years in jail a fine of up to $5,000 a fine equal to twice the amount of gain from the commission of the said crime up to a maximum of $20,000 or both the fine and imprisonment. Fa'amausili is accused of passing bad checks for more than $10,000 to a local company. Fa'amausili is held at the Tafuna Correctional Facility with bail set at $20,000.
The second woman arrested was Marie Lorraine Reid also known as Lola Reid. She's held at the TCF on bail of $5,000. Reid is charged with embezzlement which is a class C felony and carries a jail term of up to seven years in jail, a fine of $5,000, a fine equal to twice the amount of gain from the commission of said crime up to a maximum of $20,000 or both such fine and imprisonment. Reid is also facing stealing charges which is a C felony punishable for up to seven years in jail a fine of up to $5,000, a fine equal to twice the amount of gain from the commission of the said crime up to a maximum of $20,000 or both the fine and imprisonment.
Reid is alleged to have misappropriated $1,130 by withdrawing money from the American Samoa Sailing Association without board approval and used it for her personal use. .
Captain Lavata’i Taase Sagapolutele confirmed that the women are behind bars, however he declined to comment further on the cases. Fa'amausili and Reid are scheduled to appear in the District Court on Monday for their initial appearances.
EDWARD AVEGALIO ACCUSED OF DISMANTLING GRAVE
A man accused of dismantling a relative’s gravesite faces a property damage charge, a class D felony punishable by up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000 or both.
According to the government’s case, the victim is the widow of the deceased, whose gravesite was allegedly damaged by the defendant, Edward Avegalio.
The victim filed a complaint with the Department of Public Safety at the West Substation on or about July 22, 2011. The case resurfaced seven months later when it was assigned to the Criminal Investigation Division for investigation.
Court documents state that the investigating officers interviewed four witnesses who told police, they saw Avegalio knocking down poles with a sledgehammer while other men were clearing away the lumber and rebar Avegalio had already knocked down. Police obtained written statements from the four witnesses who named Avegalio as the one who allegedly damaged his relative’s gravesite.
The detectives also interviewed two men who witnesses placed at the scene when Avegalio was allegedly damaging the gravesite. Court documents state that the men told police all they did was clear up the construction debris from what Avegalio had already knocked down of the gravesite.
Court documents state Avegalio told investigating officers he was the nephew of the landowner of the land on which the gravesite is located. Avegalio is quoted in the police affidavit as saying the family did not want anything done to the gravesite until the family had decided, however the family later found out the victim started constructing an overhead cover to the gravesite.
According to court documents, Avegalio’s family told the carpenters to halt the building of the gravesite. It’s alleged that Avegalio admitted to police he damaged the gravesite by knocking down the cement poles with a 10-pounder hammer.
Court documents state damages estimated at approximately $3,000, $1,200 for materials used and $1,800 for the carpenters.
AIRLINE EMPLOYEE CASE IN HIGH COURT
A former Polynesian Airline acting manager based in Pago Pago was arraigned in High Court yesterday in connection with the alleged theft of more than $10,000 from her employer.
Judy Mata’utia waived her rights to a preliminary examination on Wednesday in District Court. Mata’utia is charged with embezzlement, a class C felony, punishable by up to seven years imprisonment, a fine of $5,000 or a fine equal to twice the amount of gain from the commission of said crime, up to a maximum of $20,000, or both fine and imprisonment.
The defendant denied the charges when she was arraigned before Associate Justice Lyle L Richmond, accompanied on the bench by Associate Judge Mamea Sala Jr.
According to court documents, Mata’utia was acting area manager for Polynesian Airline's office in Pago Pago between March and October of 2010, when the crime allegedly occurred. Matautia, is accused of misappropriating about $11,380 which passengers had paid to the airline for air tickets.
According to the government’s case, Mata’utia used the money for her personal use and allegedly fabricated bank deposit slips and forwarded the deposit slips to the airline’s main office in Samoa.
The incident came to light when the airline's manager at the Apia office saw one deposit slip was submitted twice and out of suspicion the airline obtained bank records and statements during its probe and discovered the discrepancies.
Court documents state that in one incident the defendant allegedly removed $2,600 for her personal use and then fabricated a deposit slip for $1,938 in cash and six checks — totaling $2,600. The affidavit further alleges that in at least three incidents, Mata’utia would make a bank deposit and then ask for two deposit receipts. Mata’utia would later alter the duplicate of the deposit receipts to reflect a different date.
The affidavit states there were two other incidents in which Matautia took cash from Polynesian — totaling around $4,000 —replacing that money with two checks from the same church. Also cited in the affidavit was an incident in which the defendant took close to $2,000 in cash from Polynesian and used another individual’s checks to cover this amount.
According to the government the defendant is also charged with one count of passing bad checks by writing six checks from her personal bank account, which had already been closed. The checks, made out to Polynesian Airline, were allegedly used to balance some of the cash she allegedly took from the deposits.
Bail for Mata’utia remains at $10,000, she’s represented by Assistant Public Defender Mike White while prosecuting is Assistant Attorney General Cecilia Reyna.
GRANDPA ACCUSED OF MOLESTING GRANDDAUGHTER
A 75-year old man accused of inappropriately touching his granddaughter has denied the charges against him when was arraigned in the High Court yesterday morning.
The grandfather is charged with one count sodomy which is a class B felony that is punishable by five to 15 years in jail, deviate sexual assault a class C felony, punishable by up to seven years in jail, a $5,000 fine or both, sexual abuse in the first degree - a class D felony, punishable by up to five years imprisonment, a $5,000 fine or both and endangering the welfare of a child, a class A misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment of up to one year, a fine of $1,000 or both.
According to the government’s case the grandfather inappropriately touched the victim on numerous occasions. Samoa News is withholding the name of the defendant to protect the identity of the victim.
Court documents state that the victim told police she sleeps with her grandfather in one bed and the incidents started on December 2010 where the defendant began touching the victim in a sexual manner.
According to the government’s case the victim also told police that since that day back in December, the defendant continued to touch her in the same sexual manner until February this year. Court documents state the victim told police that the inappropriate touching began over her clothing however as time passed, the defendant started to touch her genitals under her clothes. The victim also told police that when the defendant touched her genitals, she was scared and would sometimes pretend to be asleep. The victim eventually report the matter to her school counselor, who questioned her about a prolong absence from school. The defendant is held on bail of $30,000. His pre-trial conference has been scheduled on May 30, 2012.