AG Afoa orders Vaetagaloa Glen Lefiti be reinstated
The legal battle between Vaetagaloa Glen Lefiti and the American Samoa Government has come to an end, with the ASG withdrawing its appeal.
Vaetagaloa has been entangled in a legal web for the past four months after he was terminated from his post as Chief Customs Officer last August for failing to inform his boss, ASG Treasurer Falema’o Pili about an incident involving a customs officer who picked up a package from the Post Office after bypassing a customs inspection.
Before leaving his post as Attorney General, Afoa Su’esu’e Lutu wrote to Falema’o regarding the court order reinstating Glen Lefiti as Chief Customs Officer for the Dept. of Treasury.
The court order followed a three-day hearing into the matter by the Administrative Law Judge, which ruled Lefiti be immediately reinstated as Chief Customs Officer, and within six months of his reinstatement, be suspended for 30 days.
In his Dec. 31, 2013 letter, Afoa wrote, “The matter of Glen Lefiti against the American Samoa Government has reached its finality. The Court has issued its decision, and the American Samoa Government (ASG) has withdrawn its appeal.”
Afoa continued, “As ordered by the Court, Vaetagaloa is to be ‘reinstated to the career service position of Chief Customs Officer in the Department of Treasury for the American Samoa Government, and his employee rights and benefits are further reinstated, including back pay, sick leave, annual leave accrual, and retirement’.”
Afoa told Falema’o, “You must comply with that order immediately. Understand that your failure to comply with this order, against the counsel of the Attorney General, may create personal liability against you, and therefore, relieve any further liability against the ASG. You are now put on notice of this order.”
A copy of Afoa’s letter, received by Samoa News, notes the Treasury Dept. acknowledged receiving the letter on Thursday, Jan 2.
Vaetagaloa was terminated last August but the following month, in September 2013, the ALJ issued the ruling reinstating Vaetagaloa. However, ASG was adamant, seeking a reconsideration from ALJ Toetagata Albert Mailo who again ruled in Vaetagaloa’s favor by denying the government’s motion for reconsideration a month later.
Vaetagaloa has fought his termination since day one, and the ALJ ruled in his favor, citing that Vaetagaloa did commit negligence and gross misjudgment for not reporting the incident involving a customs officer, but termination in this case was not appropriate.
An appeal was subsequently filed by the government, but according to Afoa’s letter, which was forwarded to Governor Lolo M. Moliga, ASG has withdrawn its appeal.
Responding to the latest development in his case, Vaetagaloa said yesterday he thanks the Lord as well as his friends and family “for their continuing support,” and he “looks forward to moving on.”
Vaetagaloa is represented by private attorney Sharron Rancourt.
Calls to the Treasurer regarding the issue were not immediately returned.
Samoa News notes the decision to terminate Vaetagaloa’s employment was recommended by the Department of Treasury to the Department of Human Resources.
Lefiti is a career service employee.
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