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Former CSL employee to serve 28 months in jail for stealing over $10K

joy@samoanews.com

A woman who stole $10,696.31 from CSL Corporation has been ordered to serve 28 months in jail, as part of a seven-year sentence. Tagi Te’o of Lauli'i, who was alleged to misappropriate money belonging to CSL, was initially charged with embezzlement and stealing; but in a plea deal with the government, Te’o pled guilty to embezzlement and the stealing charge was dismissed.
 
During sentencing last week, Assistant Attorney General Tony Graf requested the court to incarcerate Te’o to the maximum allowable under the law, due to the severity of the crime she committed.
 
The prosecutor said when the defendant was employed with CSL, the company trusted her to oversee their finances, as she was a senior employee, having worked there for many years; however, she betrayed that trust.
 
Graf said the company was looking at giving pay raises to their employees to reward their hard work; but because of Te'o's actions, CSL has had to pull back from giving their employees what they deserve.
 
The prosecutor said it was the request of the company’s management that the maximum sentence be handed down, along with an order for restitution.
 
Graf pointed out that this type of crime has increased in the territory and the court should impose a sentence that will create deterrence and send the message that these crimes will not be tolerated.
 
Te’o pleaded with the court for a second chance. She apologized to CSL, her family, the court and the government for breaking the law. Her elderly mother also took the stand, and pleaded with the court to be lenient on her daughter, noting that what she did was wrong.
 
Te'o's mother told the court that luckily, this incident occurred and her husband (Tagi's father) is no longer here; however, she believes without a doubt that her daughter is sincerely remorseful for what she did.
 
Chief Justice Michael Kruse sentenced Te’o to seven years in jail. However, the court suspended the sentence and placed the defendant on seven years probation, under certain conditions, to include serving 28 months in jail and paying restitution in the amount of $10,696.31.  
 
After serving six months in jail, the defendant can ask the court for work release so she can make restitution. Te'o has been incarcerated since July 2013. 
 
Court documents say that on May 13, 2013 CSL officials reported to police that one of their employees had been embezzling money from the company. Te'o was in charge of CSL’s payroll, in addition to all accounts receivable and accounts payable.
 
According to court documents, Te'o had posted numerous bank deposits on CSL’s accounting system during the previous year, but the deposits posted with ANZ and BOH did not match. 
 
A CSL co-owner told police that she conducted her own investigation and discovered that a majority of the missing deposits were cash payments, in addition to a few check deposits that had been switched in CSL’s accounting system for cash.
 
When confronted by police, Te'o admitted she took the cash because she was struggling financially, but she intended to pay the money back. She further said that she took cash payments on various occasions for personal use.
 
The co-owner told police that since Te’o’s termination from CSL, numerous fictitious bank charges have been found in CSL’s accounting system to disguise the cash she was taking from the company, including the falsification of an invoice to hide a $700 cash payment Te’o received but did not post in CSL’s bank account, along with other payments that were never deposited into the company’s bank accounts.



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