ASG TO FILE FELONY CHARGES IN ALLEGED CHILD ABUSE CASE
The government is looking at filing additional charges against a woman accused of assaulting her 10-year-old niece using an electrical extension cord earlier this week. The woman made her initial appearance in the District Court on Thursday in an orange jumpsuit, after spending the night at the Tafuna Correctional Facility.
Masina Toleafoa of Nu’uuli is currently facing charges of third degree assault and public peace disturbance however Assistant Attorney General Lornalei Meredith Fanene noted that the government intends to file additional charges.
According to the government’s case, police were called by a woman reporting an assault case and police responded. The government claims the woman informed the police officers that her children met with a young girl who was crying in the bushes and asked for a phone to call her biological mother to come get her because she was beaten by her aunt. The woman also told the police that her children told her about the visible bruises on the 10-year-old girl.
Court filing say that the police proceeded to the victim’s residence where they found the 10 year old victim at home by herself. When asked by the police officers, the victim told them that her aunty was at the hospital with her husband.
It's alleged that the police then contacted the defendant to come to the Police Station, where the 10-year-old girl told police she was instructed by her aunt to fetch a shirt for her uncle and iron it, however because she took a long time to do it she was beaten with an electrical extension cord bruising her legs, arms, hands and body.
According to the government’s case the defendant admitted that she struck her niece with the extension cord several times.
ALATISE FONOTI ACCEPTS PLEA AGREEMENT FROM ASG
One of the two men charged on allegations that they claimed they were from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) office, and hired people to do construction work which they alleged would be paid for by the FBI, has entered into a plea agreement with the government.
Alatise Fonoti and his co-defendant Aperaamo Levi are both charged with two counts of stealing, appropriating property and services of people to do labor, for the purpose of depriving them by means of deceiving.
Fonoti’s plea agreement hearing is scheduled for Monday. This matter was initially set for Jury Trial later this month however Fonoti opted to accept the plea deal offer by the government.
According to a six page police affidavit, the government claims that Wayne Mataio walked into the Criminal Investigation Division and told the police that he and his workers were yet to be paid for services rendered for the defendants, who claimed they were working for the FBI office. According to court filings, Mataio said that Fonoti hired his workers to clear out a section of his property for construction, and Mataio was hired to be the supervisor to work for $10 per hour, with a $4,000 bonus.
Fonoti was alleged to have told Mataio that they would be paid with funding from the FBI office. Mataio further told police that Fonoti and Levi had told the workers they would be paid $900 per person and that— for the workers whose cars are being used— they would get another $100 per day.
Court filings state that the workers were also promised items such as toasters, microwaves, DVD players and TVs. Mataio stated that seven members of his family worked for the defendants and none received any type of payment. The defendants are alleged to have told Mataio that he would receive $2,000 to buy food for the workers, but that did not happen.
The government also claimed that the defendants warned the workers that if they were to ever question them, they would be thrown in jail, and their families would never see them again.
Mataio told the police that they worked for the defendants for about three months. It is alleged that the defendants would call the workers at least five times, saying the checks were ready but when the workers would show up for their paychecks, they were told there were no checks, say court filings.
“Fonoti and Levi told them that the FBI boss, a woman named Kim called, and said the checks would be ready once the order for materials for the whole job was sent in. The workers said they wanted to see and talk to this woman named Kim from the FBI office but Fonoti and Levi told them she could not come because she was busy with work,” say court filings.
According to a six-page affidavit, 26 men told the police that they were promised by Fonoti and Levi that they would be making $10 an hour, some were promised a TV and DVD player and they were supposed to be paid by the FBI office.
Other complaining witnesses told the police that they were promised a $4,000 bonus at the completion of their jobs. According to the government’s case, one man said they cleaned up about 10 acres of Fonoti’s property and were promised to be paid $10 an hour, every week.
Other complaints in the affidavit state that the defendants threatened the workers, that if they questioned them for their wages they would be arrested and put in jail for two years.
Court filings say that two men claimed that the defendants told them if they were arrested for two years, they would not be allowed to eat, and would not be allowed any visitors while they were in jail. According to court filings, one of the workers told police that his immigration ID card would not be renewed and if they got out of line, they would have the authorities lock them up for two years.
The complaining witnesses told the police that the defendants threatened to arrest them if they were terminated from their jobs for any discrepancy. Court filings say several of the complaining witnesses used their personal vehicles for the jobs assigned to them by Fonoti and Levi.
It’s alleged a cook was also hired and was promised to be paid $5 per hour, “because all he had to do was cook.” The cook told police the defendants told him this was a federal job, and he worked for three weeks without getting paid.
The government also alleges that Fonoti was contacted by Detectives on March 17 at his residence where he told police that all he can say to the police is that he works for the FBI under the CIS Division.
Levi was also contacted by CID Detectives and did not want to provide a written statement but police asked him if he is — or was ever — a member of the FBI, and Levi responded “yes”. Mataio, who initially filed the complaint with police, submitted to the police the workers’ bills and time sheets.
Court filings claim that CID Detectives confirmed with FBI Agent Matthew McDonald that Levi was not associated with the FBI.