Solofa defense points to govt witnesses in sentencing


The sentencing statement filed in federal court last Thursday by Paul Solofa's defense attorney, subtitled “Need to Avoid Unwarranted Sentencing Disparity”, mentions the federal government’s two cooperating witnesses — Gustav Nauer and Oscar Mayer— who were also involved in the Department of Education school bus spare parts bribery scheme for which Solofa was found guilty of witness tampering and obstruction of justice.

Assistant Federal Public Defender Michelle Peterson filed the defense statement asking the court to consider a sentence below the federal sentencing guidelines, citing among other things that the defendant is facing a serious medical condition, “Stage IV renal failure”. (See yesterday’s story for more details).

“The court must consider the need to avoid unwarranted disparities among defendants with similar criminal histories convicted of similar criminal conduct,” said Peterson and pointed to federal law.

“In this case, the court heard [during trial] from two cooperating witnesses who, according to the government’s evidence, participated in a bribery scheme,” said Peterson.  “One of those witnesses, Mr. Mayer was never prosecuted at all for his involvement and thus will serve no period of incarceration.”

The other witness, Nauer, received a government motion for a downward departure and has yet to be sentenced, according to the defense. (Samoa News should point out that many new documents in Nauer’s case are under seal per order of the federal court).

“According to the government’s evidence, those two individuals were involved in the alleged scheme throughout its apparent multi-year duration,” said Peterson. “Mr. Solofa, even according to the government’s evidence, was only involved at the beginning stages and received a relatively small amount of money.”

“Nevertheless, Mr. Solofa stands to spend more time incarcerated than either of these individuals merely because he chose to go to trial,” said Peterson.

Charges against 50-year old Solofa stem from his efforts to obstruct a federal grand jury and law enforcement investigation into a school bus spare parts bribery scheme at the DOE bus division with local vendor Pacific Products.

Solofa, a former DOE school lunch program manager and head of the DOE business office when the bribery scheme occurred, was convicted in January this year on one count each of witness tampering and obstruction of justice. He will be sentenced June 8. 

Nauer, the former supervisor of the DOE bus division, and Mayer, owner of Pacific Products, both testified for the government during Solofa’s trial. Nauer pled guilty more than a year ago at the federal court in Honolulu to one count of conspiracy to commit federal program bribery. He is scheduled to be sentenced next Monday before U.S. District Court Judge David Alan Ezra at the federal court in Honolulu.

Prosecutors have said that Nauer, who has been out on bail and living in Hawai’i since early last year, faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the conspiracy charge.

In a briefing filed in February this year, the government says the “precise” amount of money Nauer received during the bribery scheme, which spanned from January 2003 to October 2006 is $292,569.99, the same amount of restitution due from the defendant.


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