Woman accused of stealing $40K from her former employer
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A young woman accused of stealing more than $40,000 from her former employer says she used the money to pay for her ex-husband’s medical bills, personal expenses, church donations, and a family trip to Savai’i.
Marieta Lafitaga was arrested last week pursuant to an arrest warrant from the court, which accompanied the affidavit in support of the complaint. Her initial appearance in District Court was last week and a preliminary examination is Oct. 11th
Lafitaga is charged with stealing and embezzlement, both class C felonies, punishable by up to 7 years imprisonment, a $5,000 fine, or both. Bond is set at $15,000 and conditions of release — if bail is posted — are standard.
On Sept. 4th, the defendant’s former employer discovered a discrepancy in the company’s bank statements. The account balance was $51,741.92 but the company’s records showed a balance of $147,312.84
Lafitaga was confronted about the issue, as she was in charge of the company’s banking. When asked to explain, Lafitaga told the company owner that the bank was having problems with their system and they were working on correcting it.
She assured her boss that once the correction was made, she would provide an updated bank statement for his review. The following day, however, Lafitaga came clean and told the company owner that she took the money for personal use.
Once Lafitaga confessed, the company owner transferred the matter to their accountant for an internal investigation. The owner wanted to see the company’s deposit records along with the bank statements, so he could verify the difference between the two documents.
Investigators spoke to the company owner who told them that Lafitaga had already confessed to him about taking the money and using it. He said Lafitaga admitted that she had been stealing from the company for over two years.
An internal investigation by the company’s office manager revealed that a huge amount of money was missing from the company’s funds. The office manager approached Lafitaga who allegedly confessed that she stole $43,000 and used some of the money to pay her ex-husband’s medical bills, and other personal expenses.
But the company’s internal investigation showed that the total missing amount was $54,910.30
Last month, police approached Lafitaga and she agreed to make a statement.
According to her, earlier this year in August, she confessed to her employer that she was responsible for the difference in the balance amounts. She told the investigating officer that she is responsible for counting the company’s daily sales and keeping up with the daily expenses.
Lafitaga allegedly confessed that she started taking money from the company in 2017 because she needed to take care of some debts, including her ex-husband’s medical bills.
The company owner told police that Lafitaga promised to pay the money back; however, she came back last month and said she can’t afford to pay the money back, but she wants to continue to work for the company — without pay — in an effort to make amends.