ASG employee accused of defrauding Workmen’s Comp
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The case of an ASG employee who is accused of engaging in a scheme that defrauded the Workmen’s Compensation Board of a little over $100,000 has been bound over to the High Court, after District Court Judge Fiti Sunia found probable cause to support the charge of criminal fraud against her, while the charge of perjury was dismissed.
Angela Monica Langkilde, who is out on a $10,000 surety bond is scheduled to appear in High Court today at 9 a.m. for arraignment.
Prosecuting the case is Assistant Attorney General Bianca Lherisson, while Richard deSaulles, an attorney from RDA Law Firm, is representing Langkilde.
According to the government, Langkilde, an employee of the ASG Sports Complex, falsely claimed that her foot was injured while performing duty at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Tafuna. As a result, she allegedly filed a false report with the Workmen’s Compensation Board and paid money to other co-employees, who assisted her with her injury report — resulting in her being compensated a little over $100,000 for the injury.
The injury is alleged to have happened on Apr. 30, 2016 on stadium grounds, when she stepped on a stick with a nail on it.
Each side called one witness to the stand to testify during a preliminary examination hearing that took over 2 hours. The government’s witness was Det. John Seumanutafa, the lead investigator, while the defense’s witness was Satia Grey, an employee of the ASG Sports Complex —a groundsman.
THE GOVERNMENT WITNESS
According to Det. Seumanutafa’s sworn testimony, DPS Commissioner Le’i Sonny Thompson assigned him on Jan. 19, 2018 to investigate a case that alleged fraud of the ASG Workmen’s Compensation Board, regarding a claim made by an employee who works at the ASG Sports Complex in Tafuna.
Det. Seumanutafa said he was presented with a case file, comprising information from a prior investigation pertaining to this matter, conducted by Dept of Human Resources director, Eseneiaso Liu; interviews with people involved, and a report from the ASG Sports Complex director, Toleafoa Henry Tavake.
During the investigation, Det. Seumanutafa interviewed three people — all employees of the ASG Sports Complex — they were Lotoleaga Lepa; Tuli Fa’aola and Satia Grey.
According to the detective’s testimony, the three employees who testified in a hearing before the Workmen’s Compensation Council in support of Langkilde’s claims were the same three who told investigators that Langkilde’s claim was fraudulent and she did not injure her foot at work.
Det. Seumanutafa said Lepa told him that she helped Langkilde by completing her report that was forwarded to the Workmen’s Compensation Board, about her injured foot. Lepa added that the report was fraudulent, because Langkilde didn’t injure her foot at work; and she also told police that Langkilde gave her $200 for helping her out with the report.
Another employee, Fa’aola told police he knew that Langkilde’s claim was false, and during the time Langkilde was off island, she allegedly called him and instructed him that if anybody from the government asked about her injury, tell them she was injured at work.
When questioned by police, Grey said that during his testimony before the Workmen’s Compensation Council last year, he testified that Langkilde injured her foot at work, and he helped her by using a hose to wash the blood off her foot and remove from it, the stick with a nail in it.
But when investigators interviewed Grey on Feb. 5, 2018, he told them Langkilde had asked him to lie to the Council about her injury. He told police Langkilde did not injure her foot at work, and he had received $200 from her.
Based on all the information in the case file that was presented to Det. Seumanutafa, which includes minutes of the hearing, sworn testimonies of all witnesses, including Langkilde, reports from Directors, and the claim summary from the Council, the government’s lead investigator told the court that Langkilde claimed a compensation amount of over $100,000
During his sworn testimony, Satia Grey look confused and seemed to barely understand when the defense attorney questioned him.
When deSaulles asked Grey if he could recall how Langkilde injured her foot, Grey said he remembered Langkilde told him that her foot was injured when she stepped on a nail, but he didn’t see her injure her foot at work. He also did not recall using a hose to clean the blood from her foot.
When deSaulles rephrased the way he asked his question, Grey seemed to understand and recalled what happened.
According to Grey, Langkilde’s foot was injured during work at the stadium back in 2016, and he remembered helping her by using the hose to clean the blood off her foot and removing from it, a stick with a nail on it.
When asked about his statement to police and other government employees regarding Langkilde’s claim, Grey said a person from the Governor’s Office by the name of Ese summoned him to her office to discuss some issues regarding Langkilde’s injury.
“Who else did you talk to at the Governor’s Office about Langkilde’s case?” deSaulles asked. Grey responded, “After talking to Ese, another man, his office was next to Ese, also summoned me to come to his office and talk to him about Langkilde’s foot. I don’t know the man’s name but he talked like a lawyer.”
“Did you speak to the Lieutenant Governor?” deSaulles asked. Grey responded “Only my boss, Tavake, who advised me to seek a lawyer pertaining to my statement that I already gave to police, but I was not sure if he was joking … or not.”
Grey said police officers came twice to his workplace and asked him to come to the Tafuna substation to discuss Langkilde’s injury. During their interviews, which lasted over 2 hours, he said he felt pressured when police told him they have all the recordings of a phone conversation between Langkilde and other employees pertaining to this case, and he has to tell the truth.
Afterwards, he said he told police that if anything happens to him, he would commit suicide, rather than go to jail. He said the cops advised him to seek an attorney pertaining to his statement, and he should not talk to Langkilde anymore.
Grey said he didn't know that police arrested Langkilde on Feb. 23rd. When asked why he went to Langkilde’s residence two weeks ago, Grey said he went there to apologize to her for changing his statement to police.
When asked by the defense’s attorney about the $200 he received from Langkilde, Grey said it was money for him ‘to eat’ but not to pay for his testimony.
In delivering his decision, Judge Sunia explained in detail how the court carefully reviewed all elements of the statute pertaining to the charges against Langkilde.
For the element of “knowingly and willfully made a false statement” as stated in the charge of criminal fraud, the court found no probable cause to prove that Langkilde knowingly made a false statement to the Workmen’s Compensation Council.
For the elements of “knowingly and willfully obtaining money by means of fraudulent pretenses” and of “knowingly and willfully to involve in a scheme” the court found that there is probable cause to support these two elements.
The judge said that according to Lepa’s statement to police, she worked for the defendant by preparing a written report that was later presented to the Council for the defendant’s claim. He further said that Lepa told police she knew the information contained in the defendant’s report was false.
As for Grey’s statement to police, Sunia said Grey told police Langkilde asked him to lie to the Council.