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Local attorney arrested — charged with felony stealing, embezzlement

Richard de Saulles
Govt alleges he stole $121,000 from a client

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The Court has maintained the $20,000 bail set for local attorney Richard deSaulles of RDA Law Firm, who made his initial appearance in District Court yesterday morning, per an arrest warrant. deSaulles is facing charges of felony stealing and embezzlement, both class C felonies for allegedly mishandling an estimated $121,000 belonging to a client, Hope Dialysis Center.

deSaulles is represented by private attorney Talaimalo Marcellus Uiagalelei while prosecuting for the government is Assistant Attorney General Laura Garvey.

The defendant was taken into custody last Thursday, and appeared in court yesterday, shackled.

Uiagalelei asked to release deSaulles on his own recognizance, saying his client is not a flight risk, as he owns a business and is not a threat to society. He said the arrest warrant was issued last week and his client had ample time to leave — if he wanted to — but he didn't. He said if the court imposes bail, they ask that it be no more than $5,000

Prosecutor Garvey argued that bail be maintained at $20,000 saying deSaulles is a flight risk, because to her understanding, a stop order cannot be imposed on a US citizen.

"I have yet to see the day that the court grants O.R. (release) for a defendant charged with a class C — or even a class D — felony," said presiding District Court Judge Elvis P. Patea.

According to Patea, deSaulles is charged with two class C felonies, and therefore, the request for O.R. is denied.

He referred to the 20-page "extensive affidavit" and said that while the government may take deSaulles's passport, there have been cases where people were still able to depart the territory, even with the lack of travel documents.

"The court needs assurance" and $20,000 is "sufficient" bond in this case, Patea said, adding that the court has imposed $10,000 bond per count and the allegations are “4 to 5 times” that amount.

With regards to Uiagalelei's statement that deSaulles has been a resident of American Samoa for seven years, Patea said "there are people who have lived here all their lives and the court still requires bond for them."

Bond for deSaulles may be in form of cash or surety.

Judge Patea told Uiagalelei that deSaulles “has access to property”.

If bond is posted, deSaulles is ordered to abide by standard conditions. He is also to surrender his passport to the Attorney General's Office prior to his release from custody, and he is not to make any direct or indirect contact with the complainants in this case.

A preliminary examination is set for Friday, May 3.