Immigration officer held for forgery, corruption charges
Immigration Officer Savea Polone is being held in police custody on bail of $20,000 for each of the two criminal cases against him.
The first criminal case is based on allegations that he issued fake immigration identifications to two Chinese women. In this case, Polone is charged with two counts of forgery and public servant acceding to corruption.
The two forgery counts are class C felonies punishable by imprisonment for seven years, a fine of $5,000, a fine equal to twice the amount of gain from the commission of said crime up to a maximum of $20,000 or both fine and imprisonment, while the corruption count is a class D felony punishable by up to five years imprisonment, a fine of $5,000 or both.
Also in this case, Polone is charged with Matagi Lelilio, who is facing bribery of a public servant, a class D felony punishable by up to five years imprisonment, a fine of $5,000, or both fine and imprisonment.
The pair made their initial appearance in the District Court on Monday.
The second case against Polone charges him with two counts of forgery and one count of public servant acceding to corruption which are all class C felonies punishable by imprisonment for seven years, a fine of $5,000 or a fine equal to twice the amount of gain from the commission of said crime, up to a maximum of $20,000 or both fine and imprisonment.
In addition, Jin Hua Sullivan (aka Nunu), a Chinese woman, is charged in this matter as well. She is facing one count of bribery of a public servant, a class D felony punishable by up to five years imprisonment, a fine of $5,000 or both fine and imprisonment.
POLONE AND LELILIO
The case against Polone and Lelilio began when the AG’s investigating officer was informed about a situation involving fake immigration cards issued by Immigration Officer Polone. It’s alleged the immigrations cards that were in question were issued to two Chinese women, Ruiquin Liu and Jianxing Huang.
The investigation was triggered due to suspicions raised when an immigration officer working at the Tafuna airport reported that Liu and Huang were accompanied by co-defendant Lelilio to Samoa and returned to American Samoa on the same day — Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011.
Court filings state that inquiries were run on the immigration ID cards used by Liu and Huang and it was discovered that the Alien Registration numbers on their ID cards (alien registration receipt cards) belonged to different foreigners with inactive or closed files.
According to the government’s case, Liu told the investigator that she knew Lelilio because they worked together at a restaurant. Liu said one day she and Huang asked Lelilio for help with their immigration issues and Lelilio told them to give her $2,500 to give to an immigration officer to fix their ID and papers.
Liu alleges that she and Huang went with Lelilio to the Immigration Office to have their picture taken for the ID, but they didn’t get their ID cards that day. They were told by the immigration officer they would get them another day.
The investigator showed Liu the photo of immigration officer Polone and she identified him as the one who took her picture for the ID, saying he was the one who told them to fly to Samoa and back using their new ID cards, in order to clear their names from the immigration list.
Liu admitted they flew to Samoa and back on the same day, on Sept. 7, 2011.
She told the investigator she did not know her ID card was fake.
Court filings say the investigating officer also spoke to Huang, who said that Lelilio wanted $2,500 to give to the immigration officer for their papers.
Huang said she gave the money to Lelilio in four payments. The first two payments were $800 each and the next was $400, with the final payment of $500. Huang said she saw Lelilio give the immigration officer $500 when they were at the immigration office.
A photo was shown to Huang, who identified Polone as the immigration officer who had taken her picture for her ID. In court filings, Huang also claims she didn’t know she was getting a fake ID card.
Court filings state that on Sept. 9, 2011 Lelilio told the investigator that she knew Liu and Huang because they worked together at a restaurant and they had asked her for assistance with their immigration papers. Lelilio said she thought about Polone, who works at the immigration office.
It’s alleged Lelilio said she called the defendant, who told her to bring Liu and Huang to the immigration office where they had their pictures taken for their ID.
The government claims that after Liu and Huang had their pictures taken, Polone told them they would get their IDs at a later date. Lelilio said when they were at the immigration office to take the picture for the ID she did not see any files, receipts or bond posted.
It’s alleged a week or so later, Polone called her to come get the ID cards and upon receiving the ID cards she realized they were fake. Lelilio told the investigator that — per Polone’s instructions — she flew with Liu and Huang to Samoa and back. Lelilio said she was worried and uncomfortable, but took the risk anyway.
POLONE AND SULLIVAN
According to the government’s case in August of 2011 an investigator with the AG’s office was assigned by the Attorney General to investigate the issuance of fraudulent immigration ID cards (Alien Registration Receipt cards).
It’s alleged Polone did this by using an ID number of a closed or inactive case on the fraudulent card. This caused a further search for other instances of this conduct, say court filings.
According to the government’s case, a search through the immigration computer databases revealed that two Chinese citizens, Huiying Guo and Meinu Nie had been issued Alien Registration Numbers (AR numbers) that were already issued to other foreigners.
The investigator interviewed Immigration Officer Soliai who said that he recalled processing two Chinese females on Sept. 11, 2011 to depart the territory to Samoa and return the same day.
Soliai told the investigator that the data showed a Liumanu Seuma’ala was the sponsor for the Chinese females, and while talking with the sponsor in September on an unrelated matter, found that the sponsor was in possession of their ID cards.
Court filings state that the investigating officer spoke to the sponsor, who claimed that she was doing a favor for a Chinese female — Jin Hua Sullivan, who is a tenant of hers.
The sponsor said that Sullivan’s friend Yanxiong Li wanted the Chinese females (GUO and NIE) to work on a farm. Court filings say the sponsor claimed she had no idea how the two Chinese females got ID cards so fast and said all she did was obtain entry permits, which she gave to Sullivan.
It’s alleged the sponsor heard the Chinese females were leaving on Sept. 14, 2011 and asked a supervisor of the Immigration Airport Section to seize their ID cards. She admitted she now had the ID cards and turned them over to the investigation team.
Court filings state that it was in May 2011 that the sponsor filled out the applications for entry permits for the two Chinese women.
Polone was questioned by the investigator, who said that Sullivan brought in two Chinese women to have their picture taken for their ID cards, and court filings state that Polone admitted receiving $200 from Sullivan for them.
The defendant said that on a previous occasion Sullivan was in the immigration office on an unrelated matter when she asked him to help with the IDs cards at issue in this case.
According to the government’s case, Polone said he told Sullivan to bring the Chinese ladies and their passports and $100 for each to the immigration office.
He said he used the same method he had used in previous cases to make ‘fake’ ID cards — using a closed or inactive ID number to process them.
According to the government’s case when Sullivan was questioned, she said that she rented a building from Seuma’ala. Sullivan states that one of her customers, Yanxiong Li, asked her to ask her landlord for help in applying for some entry permits for his friends and she sought Seumaala’s assistance for help.
Sullivan said Li gave her copies of the passports for the two Chinese women, itineraries and $80 for the two permits, which she then gave to Seuma’ala. Court filings say Sullivan received the permits from Seuma’ala and she gave them to her friend Li.
According to the government’s case Sullivan has denied bringing the Chinese women to the immigration office to have their photos taken for their ID cards and said she didn’t offer money to Polone and does not know him.
Court filings say that Polone was summoned to the interview area and had him look at Sullivan, where he identified her as the lady who brought the Chinese women to the immigration office for ID cards and the one who had given him $200 for the cards.
The investigator also spoke with Sullivan’s friend. Li said his friend in China asked him to secure permits for two Chinese females to come to the territory so he asked Sullivan to help with the permits.
Li said it was Sullivan who sought help from Seuma’ala, so he (Li) provided copies of the passport for the Chinese women and itineraries to Seuma’ala. Court filings state that Li said he didn’t know how the Chinese women got their ID cards.