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Former insurance employees charged with embezzlement

reporters@samoanews.com

Two former employees of Florence Saulo and Associates Insurance company will make their initial appearance in District Court today on allegations of misappropriating funds over $10,000 belonging to the company.

Priscilla Toelei’u and Herema Taupau were arrested yesterday by Criminal Investigation Division Detectives.

Toelei’u and Taupau are each charged with embezzlement, a class C felony which is punishable up to seven years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000, a fine equal to twice the amount of gain from commission of said crime up to $20,000 or both fine and imprisonment.

Bail for the pair has been set at $15,000 each.

According to the government’s case, on September 7, 2011 the Department of Public Safety received a letter from the President of Florence Saulo and Associates (FSA) Vui Florence Saulo requesting a criminal investigation of two former employees on allegations they misappropriated company funds close to $12,000.

Police detectives visited the FSA office and met with managers, Adonis Guarin and Siniva Saulo. Guarin told police while going through his master file for car insurance policies issued in 2010, he noticed that there were duplicate policy numbers issued to different clients.

Court filings state that Guarin confronted Tapau because she was responsible for preparing the policies.

Tapau admitted that she has been duplicating policies since March 2010 with an estimate of 20 to 30 clients. Tapau also said that she had some files at her home but she had already thrown some files away in the garbage.

Court filings say that Tapau said she was duplicating policies so there would be no record of “non-payment” if actual policies had been issued because she took the money for her personal use.

It’s alleged that Tapau told Guarin that Toelei’u, the co-defendant was also involved and they would split any money they received evenly. The government claims that Toelei’u told Guarin that Tapau convinced her to go along with the scheme.

Toelei’u said she received tips from Tapau. According to the government’s case Manager Guarin, told police that after reviewing his files they found out there was a total of 58 policies issued without a record of payment in the company’s system.

Police questioned Tapau who said her duties included handling paperwork to issue car insurance policies, and sometimes she would pocket some or all of the money and share it with Toelei’u for their personal use.

Tapau told police that sometimes she would meet with the clients on the road or outside the office to collect the money. Upon receiving the money the pair would split the money evenly and use it for their personal use.

Toelei’u further admitted to police that she would hand the payment over to Tapau who would sign for the release of the policy despite receiving just a partial payment.

Tapau and Toelei’u told police they have been taking money from FSA since the beginning of 2010 and they received tips from between $500 and $700.

The pair told police that they took over $4,000 in money, which clients had paid for their insurance; however records indicate the amount of money missing was closer to $12,000.



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