Gov's name surfaces in Solofa transcripts on appeal
Federal government informant Oscar Mayer is heard in a federally ordered, tape recorded conversation voicing his disappointment over then Senate President Lolo Matalasi Moliga’s negative comments against Mayer, which had been published in a newspaper, which he did not identify.
Lolo’s name also surfaced during Solofa’s trial early last year, when the defense asked Mayer if there was an alleged scheme between Mayer and Lolo dealing with the purchase of Education Department buses, according to a recently released court transcript of the trial.
Transcript of the recorded conversion of Apr. 3, 2009 at a local restaurant is between Mayer and former Education Department chief financial officer, Paul Solofa. The court trial transcript was publicly released Monday in a 536-page ‘joint appendix’ motion by both parties as part of Solofa’s appeal now before the federal appellate court in Washington D.C.
The federal indictment against Solofa filed in 2010 included only certain portions of the Apr. 3, 2009 recorded conversation, which provided the government with the charges of obstruction of justice and witness tampering against Solofa, who was early last year found guilty on both counts.
Based on court filings by federal prosecutors, the FBI ordered a taped conversation between Mayer and Solofa, who claimed in the recording that he knows a lot about federal investigations and appeared to give Mayer advice on what to tell federal investigators and a federal grand jury.
At one point in the recorded conversation, Mayer talks about Lolo, saying to Solofa “I remember when Lolo was, you know, Lolo said so much s… (expletive deleted) to me on the newspaper, you know? It screwed me up so bad.”
“Until today, I don't know why he — why they hate me. He turned like this, you know? And then five minutes later he's asking me for favors, you know?” said Mayer, while Solofa asked, "Who is Lolo?"
“Lolo. Lolo Molinga [sic],” was Mayer’s response. Mayer also says that Lolo had asked for help “on the car... can you help me on this...[sic]”. (No other information was cited in the recording about the car or what year Lolo made such a request)
And “then he, you know the day I left for holiday, man, big issue in the newspaper, ‘I should be prosecuted, and blah, blah, blah’, Don't you remember?” Mayer said, referring to Lolo as the person who made the comments to the newspaper.
Solofa replied, “I don’t read the f... ing paper. You know, the FBI and everybody — they don't read. There are people in Samoa who kiss a... with the FBI, they are the ones who send them everything that's in the paper.” (Solofa never identified the newspaper by name.)
In 2007— during Lolo’s tenure as Senate President — the Senate Select Investigative Committee carried out an extensive probe into the ASDOE spare parts scheme and Mayer was among the several witnesses questioned by the investigative arm of the Senate.
Following several hearings, the SSIC recommended in an August letter in 2007 to the attorney general at the time to launch a criminal investigation against Mayer. Lolo signed the letter and then SSIC chairman Sen. Alo Dr. Paul Stevenson.
The letter also listed seven incidents of “possible criminal conduct on the part” of Mayer and others associated with him “pertaining to “fraud”, “waste”, and “abuse” of both local and federal funds.
It was noted in the letter that the SSIC will provide record of its hearing and all documents to ASG. The SSIC records were also sent to the federal government, prompting the federal investigation into this scheme.
The ‘joint appendix’ filed Monday, also includes a transcript of Solofa’s trial on Jan. 12, 2012 where Lolo’s name again surfaced, when defense attorney Michelle Peterson questioned Mayer on the witness stand regarding an alleged scheme involving Lolo.
Peterson asked Mayer if he remembered telling the [federal] government “about a scheme with the president of the Senate and chief procurement officer, Lolo Moliga.”
Mayer replied, “I didn't have any scheme going on with him. Mr. Lolo Moliga, who was the chief procurement officer at one time, you know, he approached me and he asked me — he told me this. He told me, look, in the future, only companies who have native Samoans, American Samoan people will be able to, you know, provide bids, and provide items to the government. You know, how about, you know, we join the company, and you give me 25 percent of your company. All right,” according to the court transcript.
(Lolo had twice served as chief procurement officer, with the last time from 1998 to the latter part of 2000 during the Tauese Administration. Thereafter, Lolo returned to his private company until he entered the Senate in January 2005).
Responding to a follow up question from the defense, Mayer also denied ever being told by Lolo to generate invoices for buses that Pacific Products didn’t have yet, so that Lolo and Mayer could get federal funds.
Mayer recalled that Lolo had asked for an invoice so it could be processed by the Treasury Department for the school buses, which were already on their way to the territory, so that Pacific Products could get paid.
With this reply, the defense moved on to the next issue pertaining to Mayer, which involved Mayer not telling the truth to federal agents when the case was first investigated by the federal government, following the SSIC probe.
Queries to the governor’s office for comment were not immediately answered.
Also included as part of the ‘joint appendix’ filings are transcripts from other dates of Solofa’s trial as well as the day he was sentenced, prosecutor’s motions on certain issues, and previous defense issues. Also noteworthy, a ‘supplement joint appendix’ filing has been placed under seal by order of the court.