EMBEZZLEMENT CASES: KRUSE WANTS A REPORT
Chief Justice Michael Kruse has ordered Chief Probation Officer, Tauili’ili Silivelio Iosefo to put together a report on how many women have taken money from their employers.
This came about during the sentencing of Fuamoli Vaiusagote, a former employee of GHC Reid & Co. Ltd., accused of removing close to $5,000 from the company’s deposit bag.
Vaisagote, who has been behind bars on bail of $10,000 was initially charged with embezzlement; however in a plea agreement with the government, she pled guilty to the amended charge of conspiracy to commit embezzlement, a lesser charge, and Kruse accepted the plea deal.
During sentencing the defendant — who’s a mother of three minor children — sought the court’s forgiveness and leniency, noting that she’s a single mother. The defendant also apologized to the government and GHC Reid for her actions and asked the court to allow her to return home to her children so she can attain a job to provide for them, and at the same time pay back the company’s money.
The defendant’s father also took the stand and pleaded with the court to allow his daughter to return home given that she has minor children and he’s the only provider for their family. Assistant Public Defender Mike White informed the court this is the defendant’s first offense, she has taken responsibility for her actions and is sincerely remorseful.
White pleaded with the court to take into consideration the defendant has minor children and they need their mother at home.
Kruse noted that there has been an increase of similar cases and deterrence needs to be adhered to. He then continued the sentencing to today, while the court awaits the report from the Chief Probation Officer on the number of similar cases that have come before the court.
According to the government’s case, the company filed an official complaint against Vaisagote on Apr. 13, 2012, for stealing money from the company a year before. It’s alleged that on Apr. 13, 2011 one of the manager’s of the company discovered the theft.
The complaint was filed in 2012, after the defendant was given a chance to pay back the money to the company by the president of the company. At the time, Vaisagote signed a promissory note admitting to her guilt and the funds she stole, promising to make restitution. Court filings say that, per the promissory note, the defendant promised to repay $4,850.10 to the company in monthly increments.
To date, the defendant has only made two payments on the promissory note, totaling $110. The government claimed numerous attempts to locate and interview the defendant proved unsuccessful during the investigation into the case.
SEALIITU MAUGA RELEASED FROM JAIL
Chief Justice Michael Kruse released Seali’itu Mauga from jail with the condition that he be gainfully employed within 90 days.
Mauga was facing felony charges following an incident that occurred in Fatu ma Futi on Jan. 20, 2013 where he was charged with second degree assault, property damage and public peace disturbance. The co-defendant in this matter was Bogdaw Tuiletufuga, who is also charged with second degree assault and his case is pending in the High Court.
Mauga pleaded guilty to property damage and PPD as part of the plea deal with the government. During sentencing the defendant apologized to the court, the government, his parents, families, wife and children and also to the man whose car he damaged as a result of the altercation.
The defendant pleaded with the court to release him from jail, so he can return home and provide for his family. Assistant Public Defender Mike White informed the court the defendant was upset when his sister was injured. However, he noted that Mauga is sincerely remorseful of his actions.
Kruse asked for the status of the co-defendant and the government informed him that that case is pending in High Court. The Chief Justice sentenced the defendant to five years in jail, however execution of sentencing was suspended and he’s placed on five years probation.
He was sentenced to time served (four months); ordered to be gainfully employed within 90 days, and pay a fine of $1,000 within six months.
Kruse noted that restitution in this matter will not be addressed given that this is a result of an altercation and co-defendant can bring this issue up in civil court.
According to the government’s case, a woman, in an attempt to stop a fight between Tuiletufuga and another man during a drinking session, was hit on the head with a flashlight allegedly thrown by Tuiletufuga.
The woman hit by the flashlight was Mauga's sister. The government claims the woman suffered bruises, swelling and substantial pain, as well as a cut on her head that required eight stitches.
Court filings say, Mauga then struck Tuiletufuga on the head with a beer bottle and punched him on the face and body with his fists. Tuiletufuga sustained two lacerations on his head, a fractured finger, bruises and substantial pain. It's alleged Mauga also struck Tuiletufuga’s vehicle with a shovel, leaving damages that were estimated at $3,856.
ALLEGED BURGLAR ARRESTED AND CHARGED
Vallen Matuauto, who is believed to be the mastermind behind a burglary in Satala that occurred last year, is being held behind bars on bail of $20,000. He’s charged with first degree burglary, a class B felony punishable from five to 15 years in jail and stealing, a class A misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment up to one year and a $1,000 fine.
The defendant made his initial appearance in the District Court yesterday. According to the government’s case on Jan. 5, 2012 around 4:00a.m. police received a call reporting an alleged burglary taking place at a store in Satala and police officers responded to said call.
The storeowner told police upon arriving home around 4:00a.m. he noticed the surveillance cameras in his room weren’t working and suspected someone was either in his store or had been in his store.
Court filings say the perpetrator had broken in through the back door and police officers found pieces of ice cream and wrappers on the floor and some shoes that had been for sale were missing off the shelves, along with cigarettes allegedly taken.
“The store surveillance cameras had been broken and two suitcases and some sunglasses had also been stolen and the store fridge was left open,” claims the government.
Court filings further state that during the investigation of a different burglary, the defendant’s name was mentioned as a possible suspect in this matter and the defendant agreed to speak with the police. Sgt Siliaivao Sea questioned the defendant, who said that the night before the incident, he and another man planned to break into the store.
Court filings say the defendant said his two friends went inside the store in question while he stayed outside and monitored the area; and after they broke into the store they divided the merchandise among themselves.
Police spoke to both suspects, who informed the investigating officers that the defendant stayed outside the store as a 'look out' man while they put the stolen merchandise in a bag and divided it among themselves. One of the suspects told police that they were urged by defendant to burglarize the store and so the two suspects broke into the store while defendant stayed outside and scanned the area.