ASG Treasury appoints Lee Agava'a Fa'alili Lele'a new Customs Chief
The Department of Treasury has appointed a new Customs Chief, Lee Agava’a Fa’alili Lele’a from the village of Onenoa. Lele'a was recently retired from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security after 26 years and 7 months of service as a Special Agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), formerly the U.S. Department of Justice Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS).
Samoa News understands that the appointment of Lele'a as the new Chief was announced last week. Efforts to obtain a comment from Treasurer Dr Falema’o Phil Pili were unsuccessful, however senior Customs officers told Samoa News that Falema’o named Lelea as Chief of Customs and placed Loloaso Easter Wightman-Uia as Deputy Chief. Loloaso has been Acting Chief for several months.
Lele'a replaces former Chief of Customs Glen Lefiti, who was recently suspended for 30 days. The suspension was part of an Administrative Law Judge order issued two months ago in response to a grievance filed by Lefiti over the government’s move to terminate his employment over alleged negligence and misjudgment in his work performance. The ALJ concluded termination was not appropriate in this case.
Lele'a started his career in law enforcement as a Police Officer with the American Samoa Department of Public Safety in 1978. He then continued with the U.S. Department of Defense in Honolulu, Hawaii as a Naval Base Police Officer. In 1986, he joined the Immigration and Naturalization Service under the U.S. Department of Justice.
Following the September 11th attacks on the nation, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was formed and Lele'a's position transferred to its Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency until his retirement on June 30, 2012.
Lele'a was born in the village of Alofau, and is the son of Fuesaina Moefono Salamo Moevao of Alofau and the late Paepaeulupoo Faalili Lele’a of Onenoa.
His late father and mother, Malia Polini Sipiliano of Sailele, raised him in Onenoa.
Lele'a attended Faga’itua High School as a freshman and later moved to the San Francisco Bay Area where he graduated from Serramonte High School in Daly City, California. He later graduated with an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice from Skyline College in San Bruno, California.
The new Chief Customs Officer is married to Galumalemana Christina McFall of Sapapalii, Savai’i and they have five children.