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Court Report

joy@samoanews.com

WOMEN CHARGED WITH STEALING MORE THAT $25,000 FROM EMPLOYER
 
The Attorney General’s office has arrested and charged one of two women accused of stealing more than $25,000 from the O&O Company back in November 2012. Ofa Komiti has been charged, together with Lisi Kwon, who is not on island.
 
Komiti is facing embezzlement and stealing charges, and each count carries a jail term of up to seven years, a fine of up to $5,000, a fine up to the amount gained from commission of said crime or both fine and jail term. The incident was reported to police in November 2012 and Police Officer Elden Ane was assigned to investigate the case.
 
Court filings state the O&O company informed police that $25,820.58 was missing from the company’s account and it had been Komiti and her co-defendant’s (Kwon) duties to balance and keep the “financial books” of the company.
 
It was discovered that on multiple occasions, customers had large amounts of money charged (on credit) to their accounts and were outstanding, according to the financial books kept by Kwon and Komiti.
 
Court filings say the O&O supervisor communicated with the customers about their outstanding bills, however the customers stated they had already paid their bills. The  payments, however, were never recorded nor marked that they had been received, according to the company’s books. It’s alleged Kwon and Komiti’s records indicated the financial records were false because they stated that the books were balanced yet $25,820.58 was missing.
 
Court filings say Komiti has been a long time employee, but Kwon was a recent employee; and, it was Komiti’s responsibility to account for the money from sales and she was responsible for the deposit.
 
The supervisor told police Kwon admitted to him that she took $3,561 on October 25, 2012 and blamed Komiti for stealing the money, because she (Komiti) had been stealing from the company for a very long time.
 
Court filings say Kwon told the O&O supervisor it was Komiti who forced her (Kwon) to steal the money, as she had refused.
 
It is alleged Kwon further stated Komiti told her she had “done this scam with prior cashiers that worked for O&O.”
 
Court filings say Komiti however, informed the supervisor, it was Kwon who initiated this scam and asked her (Komiti) to help steal the money.
 
Komiti alleged a few days after Kwon approached her, she found $1,000 in her purse when she got home and the following week, there was $700, then the next week another $800 with the last cash found in her purse in November 2012, which was $1,000.
 
There are 15 stores which payments to O&O are allegedly missing, say court filings. The missing payments began Oct. 25, 2012 and continued until Nov. 15, 2012, when the company discovered the missing payments.
 
LADY NAOMI CREW MEMBER ADMITS TO CRIMINAL CONDUCT
 
Lady Naomi crew member, Liki Kerisimasi, who hand carried three bundles of marijuana from Apia, Samoa to American Samoa has admitted to his criminal conduct.
 
Kerisimasi is charged together with Fatu Vagana and each are charged with unlawful possession of marijuana as well as unlawful possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. Both are being held in police custody on bail of $50,000 each.
 
In a plea agreement with the government, the defendant Kerisimasi has pled guilty to the amended charge from count two, unlawful possession of a controlled substance, which carries a lesser penalty than the original count.
 
In return for his plea, the government moved for the court to dismiss the unlawful possession of marijuana with intent to distribute which carries a much harsher penalty.
 
The co-defendant in this matter has set his case for jury trial.
 
During the plea agreement the defendant admitted he transported three bundles of marijuana from Samoa to American Samoa and gave it to someone. Chief Justice Michael Kruse accepted the plea agreement last week and scheduled sentencing for Kerisimasi on March 21, 2014.
 
GRANDPARENTS SENTENCED FOR ASSAULTING 8-YEAR-OLD GRANDDAUGHTER
 
Grandparents charged in connection with the assault of their 8-year-old granddaughter "CM" pleaded with the court for leniency, noting they were full of remorse for their actions. The sentencing came after they admitted before the court to the assault. Detectives with the Criminal Investigation Division arrested the grandparents, Taumaoe and Leoloa Fa’amasino last year.
 
Samoa News points out there are three defendants in this matter and the third defendant, the victim’s uncle, has already entered a guilty plea and his case is awaiting sentencing.
 
During the plea agreement, the 48-year-old grandmother admitted before the court she used a hard object to strike her 8-year-old granddaughter, leaving bruises, while the 49-year-old grandfather admitted he had strangled the girl.
 
The grandfather, Taumaoe, was facing three counts of second-degree assault while his wife was facing one count of second-degree assault; additionally they are both faced with endangering the welfare of a child. In the plea agreement with the government, the defendants both pled guilty to third degree assault and endangering the welfare of a child.
 
According to the government’s case, CM is an 8-year-old third grader who had been absent from school from Feb. 14 through Feb. 26, 2013. CM returned to school on Feb. 27, where it is alleged she had bruises on her face and arms, and a black eye. An official reported the incident to police from the Matatula Elementary School in Alao, which eventually lead to the the grandparents and an uncle of the victim being charged and arrested.
 
During sentencing the grandparents told the court that what they did was wrong and they have learned their lesson after being incarcerated for six months. Chief Justice Michael Kruse sentenced the defendants to time served.



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