Faanu pleads not guilty to 44 counts — plus SN corrects earlier report
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Former McConnell Dowell manager Fonotaga Jasmine Faanu appeared before Acting Associate Justice Elvis P. Patea last Friday for arraignment, where her defense attorney Richard deSaulles of RDA Law Firm entered a not guilty plea to all 44 counts against her.
The government is charging Faanu with 22 counts of stealing and 22 counts of forgery - all class C felonies.
During Faanu’s court proceedings last Friday, her attorney informed the court that Faanu received a copy of the charges against her, waived the reading of charges and complaints against her, and entered a plea of not guilty.
Patea acknowledged receiving the defendant’s not guilty plea and then set her first pretrial conference hearing for July of this year.
The alleged crime was uncovered after ANZ Bank contacted a company representative to verify a check the defendant was trying to cash. It was revealed in court during Faanu’s PX hearing last week that the alleged check scheme started in 2013 and continued until February this year. According to the government, the amount of each check the defendant allegedly cashed ranged from $4,400 to $9,986.56.
Last Friday, Samoa News published an article regarding the outcome of Faanu’s PX hearing in District Court on Wednesday afternoon, whereby the former McConnell Dowell manager is charged with stealing $400,000 from her former employer.
In the article, Samoa News reported that McConnell Dowell Finance Manager, Murray Holmes testified that another employee by the name of “Evon” [Yvonne] also admitted to cashing a check.
Samoa News has since obtained a court transcript of the hearing that took place on Wednesday, May 16, 2018, and found it inadvertently made an error in its report of Holmes' testimony concerning Yvonne.
The transcript of the court hearing does not say that Holmes said that Yvonne “admitted to cashing checks”.
The only employees that Holmes said, “admitted cashing checks” was the defendant, Fonotaga Jasmine Faanu, and Teka Purcell.
Purcell, he said, admitted to receiving cash from a company check she cashed for Jasmine. According to Holmes, Teka was suspended with pay.