NOFO UTU DENIES ALLEGATIONS DURING ARRAIGNMENT
During her arraignment yesterday morning, Nofo Te’o Utu, an alleged Visa agent, entered a not guilty plea in the High Court on two charges of stealing, which are both class C felonies punishable by imprisonment of up to seven years, a fine of up to $5,000, a fine equal to twice the amount of gain from the commission of said crime up to $20,000 —or both fine and imprisonment.
Utu, who’s released out on a surety bail of $10,000 is represented by Fiti Sunia while prosecuting is Assistant Attorney General Julie Pasquale. The defendant on Thursday waived her right to a preliminary examination in the District Court before Judge John Ward.
According to the government’s case, on March 2013, 'IT' and his wife, upon learning that the defendant was an individual Visa agent, went to her residence and asked for her help in applying for a United States Visa for IT through the U.S. Embassy in Apia, Western Samoa.
It’s alleged that Utu told the couple that they needed to pay $100 for the processing fee, $150 for the visa application request, $160 for fingerprinting and $150 for IT’s airfare to Samoa.
Court filings state that IT paid the defendant $560 in March 2013 and that the defendant informed IT that she had processed all paperwork for his visa and to get ready for his appointment in Apia.
It’s also alleged that on the day before IT was scheduled to fly to Apia, the defendant called him, saying that he would not fly to Apia but instead she (the defendant) would be the one to represent IT and other applicants at the U.S. Embassy in Apia to answer questions on their behalf. The government claims that IT and his wife stated that when the defendant returned from Apia she told IT that his visa will arrive in two weeks time, but when more than two weeks passed by without a Visa confirmation, IT contacted the defendant again.
According to court filings, the defendant gave IT a different story on when his visa would arrive and the stories kept changing up until May 17, 2013.
Police also spoke to another complaining witness, "SS" who also paid money to the defendant for a U.S. Visa, which he also did not receive. SS told CID Detectives that on March 12, 2013 he paid the defendant $150 for a Visa Confirmation number and then two days later, he gave the defendant $100 for processing fee and $150 for airfare to Apia.
It’s alleged that the defendant told SS he would leave for Apia on Apr. 6, 2013 for his interview but when SS spoke with defendant on April 4, 2013 she told him that he needed to pay $160 more for a fingerprinting process— which SS paid. Court filings state that according to SS, the defendant kept changing her story on SS’s departure date for Apia, thus driving SS to seek assistance from the CID Division at the Department of Public Safety.
Court filings also state that the police spoke to Utu on May 21, 2013 where she said that the appointments have been set for the two male individuals and she allegedly admitted that she had been overcharging the two males and used the money for personal purposes, and she was willing to pay back the victims in a timely manner. The defendant had also stated that she had given false information to the victims regarding their visas and wished to apologize for it.
Pre-trial conference in this matter is scheduled for July 23, 2013.
SEX CASE MOVED TO FAMILY COURT
Chief Justice Michael Kruse has ordered the case of a 26-year-old man accused of impregnating a 16-year-old girl transferred to the Family Drug and Alcohol Court. This was after Assistant Public Defender Mike White informed the court that the defendant wishes to start a family with the victim upon his release from jail.
Wesley Motuliki, who is facing charges of rape, sexual abuse first degree, and endangering the welfare of a child, yesterday pled guilty to the first charge while the government moved to dismiss the latter charge. Chief Justice accepted the plea agreement.
The defendant apologized for violating the law, and for ridiculing his family name due to his actions. He then apologized to the girl involved and said in open court that he loves her and cannot wait to start a family with the 16-year-old.
The defendant, who’s being held on bail of $50,000 is represented by Assistant Public Defender Leslie Cardin while prosecuting is Assistant Attorney General Kimberly Hyde.
Kruse moved to continue this matter, asking the Probation office to provide the court with a report from the Department of Human Social Services pertaining to similar cases.
According to the government’s case the incident came to light when the girl’s grandfather filed a complaint with the police on Feb. 5, 2013. The grandparents informed the police that the girl was living with her mother but had moved in with them. It’s alleged that the girl felt ill and was taken to the hospital, where physicians informed the grandparents that she was five months pregnant.
Court filings say that the girl’s mother told the grandparents that the girl had sexual intercourse with Motuliki in August 2012, and it was reported to the police, however when the police officers failed to respond to the call, the family decided to resolve the matters privately and told the girl and Motuliki to refrain from engaging in sexual intercourse. However, the family was surprised when the girl was found to be pregnant.
According to the government’s case, the girl told that police that she met the defendant in January and had sex for the first time in April 2012. She said they had engaged in a sexual relationship until September.
The girl told the police that initially the defendant refused to have sexual intercourse with her because he was afraid of being arrested. Upon questioning by police, the defendant admitted to engaging in sex with the girl when she was 16 years old.
DAVID BROWN TO ENTER GUILTY PLEA IN BURGLARY CASE
David Brown is facing charges of first degree burglary, second degree assault and property damage on allegations that he broke into a store in Ili’ili and attempted to stab the store owner. Brown, who’s being held on $20,000 bail, is represented by Assistant Public Defender Mike White while prosecuting is Assistant Attorney General Camille Philippe.
The defendant is scheduled to have his change of plea hearing next week Monday.
According to the government’s case, in the early morning hours of Feb. 9, 2013, police received a call from a Chinese couple requesting assistance regarding a burglary taking place.
It’s alleged that when the police arrived at the scene they were told by a bystander that two men were inside the store but when the police entered the store, the pair took off on foot.
The Chinese couple informed the police that they were sleeping when they heard noises coming from the store, and when they opened the door, one of the suspects swung a knife at the man but missed and the knife landed on the door. The man managed to get back into his bedroom, locked the door and sought assistance from the police and the landlord.
According to the government’s case, the suspects gained entrance into the store by removing three wooden slabs on the side of the store and kicking in the kitchen door. It's alleged that two cleaver knives were missing from the kitchen and that after the burglary one of the knives was identified to have been used during the burglary.
Police on the day in question drove around the Ili’ili area and came across two men who matched the description given by the Chinese couple. It's alleged that when police approached the pair, one took off on foot but they were able to apprehend Brown.
The defendant told the police that he had just met the suspect that took off on foot. Court filings say that Brown told the police that the suspect had come to his house in Nu’uuli telling him they were going to break into the store. He also stated that the other suspect planned the entire operation and had walked there from Nu’uuli, through Petesa and Happy Valley and all the way to Ili’ili.
Brown said they got to Ili’ili and the other suspect went into the store and came out with a flashlight and then they both went into the store.
It's alleged that the other suspect kicked in the kitchen door to enter the store and was trying to get through another door but they were unsuccessful. Brown claims it was the other suspect who held the knife.