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Female embezzler with infant child given only probation after $40,000 theft

reporters@samoanews.com

“Your three week old baby will not be an excuse for the court not to hand down the proper sentence in this case, however the court with difficulty will be lenient and give you another chance,” said Associate Judge Mamea Sala Jr., who accompanied Associate Justice Lyle L. Richmond when handing down sentencing for a woman who stole more than $40,000 from her employer. Also presiding over this matter was Associate Judge Muasau Tasina To’ofili.
 
Lega Oa, a former employee of Kooline refrigeration accused of embezzling 58 checks, was initially charged with embezzlement and forgery.
 
However in a plea deal she pled guilty to embezzlement, while the government moved to dismiss the remaining charge. Upon Oa’s guilty plea, she admits that she embezzled 45 checks belonging to the Kooline Refrigeration, totaling $38,528.04 and $4,530 in bank fees.
 
Oa told the court that she wrote the checks, forged them, cashed them, and used the money for her personal use. According to the government’s case, on Feb. 29, 2012 the manager of Kooline filed an official complaint against the former clerk of Kooline.
 
The government claims that the defendant allegedly admitted that she had forged checks dated back to 2010, and the Kooline manager reported to police that he and the company accountant discovered 54 additional company checks, which he claimed were forged by the defendant, and copies of the checks were presented to police. 
 
Court filings state that checks were dated from February 9, 2011 to January 13, 2012.
 
The defendant in tears pled with the court to show leniency in her case given that she has a three week old baby and that she’s remorseful of her actions. Oa apologized to Kooline Refrigeration, the government, the court, her parents and her husband for her actions.
 
Assistant Public Defender Mike White noted that while the amount of money involved in this case is significant, the defendant has expressed remorse several times. He pleaded with the court to consider that the defendant has a minor baby.
 
Assistant Attorney General Julie Pasquale recommended that the court jail the defendant for 28 months, given that she wrote more than 50 checks to herself. “The pre sentence report noted that the defendant is an educated and intelligent woman, she signed 54 checks, and every time she signed, she had to think before she signed each check,” said Pasquale. The prosecutor asked the court to be reminded of the significant amount of restitution in this case.
 
Richmond sentenced the defendant to seven months, however execution of sentencing was suspended and she’s placed on probation for seven years, under certain conditions.
 
She’s ordered to pay a fine of $2,000. Also the defendant will be given 30 days to meet with probation officers and counsel to come up with a payment plan for the restitution of $43,058.04 and the $2,000 fine.
 
The defendant was also ordered to remain a law abiding citizen and was warned that the court was giving her this chance.



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