Lefiti on 30 day suspension after ALJ reinstates him
Administrative Law Judge Toetagata Albert Mailo has ordered that Glen Lefiti be reinstated as as Chief Customs Officer and then suspended for 30 days anytime in the next 6 months. Samoa News understands the suspension was effective last Friday.
In his order, the ALJ noted Lefiti “committed negligence and gross misjudgment” in his work performance in not reporting Custom Officer Francis Maluia to the Treasurer; however, the court concludes “termination is not appropriate in this case.”
Furthermore, the order notes, “Suspension is a more appropriate punishment” for Lefiti in this matter. The ALJ points out, “that does not mean that if another similar incident of negligence and misjudgment were to occur in the future, that it would still not be enough to prove termination as warranted in view of this incident.”
Toetagata continued, “this Tribunal hereby decides and orders that Mr. Glen Lefiti’s termination is hereby revoked, reversed, and modified in that he is reinstated to the career service position of Chief Customs Officer in the Department of Treasury... and his employee rights and benefits are further reinstated including back pay, sick leave, annual leave accrual, and retirement.”
Following his termination earlier this year, Lefiti filed a lawsuit against the government, namely the Treasury Department and Department of Human Resources (DHR).
A hearing behind closed doors took place earlier this month after Lefiti’s attorney Sharron Rancourt moved for the ALJ to ask the media to leave the courtroom, because it was a personnel matter and therefore confidential.
Assistant Attorney General Edwin Kama’oha agreed.
Lefiti has been an employee with the Treasury Department for 11 years and has been Chief Customs Officer for the last few years. The main incident the ASG cites to justify Lefiti’s termination is the incident involving Customs Agent Francis Maluia.
According to the order, Maluia is a Customs Officer who took a bag or parcel from the post office that was flagged by the canine unit in suspicion of having contraband or illegal drugs in it.
Maluia was told to stop and have the parcel checked by the officers on duty but he didn’t. “Lefiti found out about this incident and did not tell the Treasurer about the incident until over a month later,” the order notes.
Furthermore, “Maluia has not been terminated, neither have the two Customs Officers that allowed Maluia to leave the Post Office.”
In addition, “the Treasurer testified in open court that he thought at the time he didn’t have enough evidence to terminate anyone. That’s why he did not quickly terminate Lefiti. He has not terminated Maluia yet.”
Another issue the order points to are the guns that were found the Customs Office. According to the order, the guns were “legally retained by the Customs Office.”
Based on Lefiti’s personnel file, says the order, this incident is the first disciplinary action involving Lefiti in his 11 years of service with the Treasury Department and his personnel evaluations have all been “very good and even superior.”
“Based on the foregoing Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, this Tribunal hereby Decides and Orders that Mr. Glen Lefiti's termination is hereby revoked, reversed, and modified in that he is reinstated to the career service position of Chief Customs Officer in the Department of Treasury American Samoa Government and his employee rights and benefits are further reinstated including back pay, sick leave, annnual leave accrual and retirement. It is further ordered that Petitioner, Glen Lefiti, is suspended for 30 calendar days to be served within six (6) months from receipt of this decision by the ASG."