Plea agreement in the works for former McConnell Dowell manager
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The High Court has continued the case of the former McConnell Dowell manager until Sept. 5, 2018, to give time for both sides to finalize the issue on the amount of restitution owed before the plea agreement is officially announced in open court.
Fonotaga Jasmine Faanu appeared in court last Friday for a change of plea hearing. She is represented by private attorney, Richard Desaulles of the RDA Law Firm while Assistant Attorney General, Jason Mitchell of the Attorney General’s office is prosecuting the case.
When the case was called for a change of plea, Mitchell informed the court that both parties had reached an agreement on the case, however, they still hadn’t reached an agreement on the amount of restitution.
Desaulles echoed the government’s statement, saying that his client is willing to pay a certain amount of restitution.
A copy of the plea agreement was filed in court last week Thursday. While looking at the copy of the plea agreement, Acting Associate Justice, Elvis P. Patea wanted to clarify something in the plea agreement with the government’s attorney.
Reading from the copy of the plea agreement in front of him, Patea asked Mitchell, “As part of the agreement, the defendant wishes to plead guilty to two counts in the information, and upon acceptance, the government moves to dismiss the remaining 42 counts. Is that your understanding?”
Mitchell replied, “Yes your Honor. The victim was off island and he has just returned back to the territory last night (last Thursday night). The government needs to get the victim’s position on this plea agreement.”
Patea then continued the hearing to Sept. 5. He also made it clear to both parties that the hearing on Sept. 5 is not a Change of Plea hearing, it will be a Status Hearing. He said that the court needs to make sure that both parties come up with a final amount of restitution before the plea agreement is announced in court.
Faanu, who is still in custody unable to post a $200,000 bond is accused of stealing more than $400,000 from her former employer McConnell Dowell. The defendant told a special investigator from New Zealand that she used some of the money to renovate her house, and some was given to family members and friends.
Faanu is facing 22 counts of stealing and 22 counts of forgery, all class C felonies.
The alleged crime was uncovered after ANZ Bank contacted a company representative to verify a check Faanu was trying to cash. It was revealed in court during the defendant’s preliminary hearing in May of this year that the defendant altered 22 checks from her former employer and cashed the checks for personal use.
It was also revealed 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 up to $9,986.56.