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Pase sentence: Restitution and 14 months prison

U.S. District Court Judge Reggie B. Walton yesterday sentenced the former executive director of the American Samoa Special Services Commission (ASSSC) to serve 14 months in prison followed by three years of supervised released.

Walton also ordered the former director, Mrs. Mine S. Pase, to pay $325,408 in restitution. The 63-year old sister of Lt. Gov. Faoa A. Sunia last November pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit theft of federal funds in connection with the stealing of more than $325,000 in AmeriCorps grant funds awarded to ASSSC.

The U.S. Justice Department spokesperson and Pase’s defense attorney didn’t immediately reply to a request for comments in this case, nor did they reply to queries as to when and where the defendant is supposed to self surrender to begin her jail time.

There was no other information from the sentence hearing available on federal electronic court records.

The only information available at press time was a one-page court order signed yesterday by Walton, which directs the U.S. Marshal Service “to arrange for noncustodial transportation for Ms. Pase to return to American Samoa from Washington D.C. on or after June 21, 2012.”

“The Marshal Service shall provide appropriate reimbursement for incidental expenses for Ms. Pase,” the order states.

The Probation Office had calculated an advisory guideline range of 24 to 30 months in jail for sentencing, but Pase’s attorney Assistant Federal Public Defender Michelle Peterson asked the court to consider a sentence below federal sentencing guidelines, saying that Pase takes responsibility for her wrongdoing and “is sincerely remorseful for her conduct”.

However, prosecutors in their sentencing memorandum recommended the defendant be given a sentence of 27 months imprisonment and ordered to pay $325,408 in restitution, saying that Pase “perpetrated a significant theft over the course of several years whereby she, her relatives, and others stole more than $325,000 in federal grant funds” from the commission, a now-defunct agency of the American Samoa Government.

According to the plea agreement with the federal government, Pase — who served as executive director from March 2001 until October 2010 — admitted that she arranged for herself, her relatives, ASSSC members, and ASSSC staff to receive a total of $325,408 in federal funds to which they were not lawfully entitled. 

These unlawful payments took the form of $109,532 in unlawful payments for purported business trips that Pase and others did not take; $78,889 in unlawful payments for vacation trips to Apia, Western Samoa; $89,313 in unlawful payments for meals; $19,665 in unlawful payments to Pase’s daughter under a bogus car lease agreement; and $28,009 in unlawful payments to Pase and her relatives for the use of damaged office space in which two of the Commission’s programs were housed.

Pase and her relatives personally received at least $123,236 of the $325,408 in stolen federal funds, according to the plea agreement.

The case against Pase arose from the Corporation for National and Community Service’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) audit and investigation of the ASSSC more than a year ago and the OIG report was released in January 2011.

As a result of the OIG’s audit and investigation, federal funding was terminated and the ASSSC shut down. Some of the programs affected by the shutdown were the Read To Me Samoa, the HIS Ministry and the Jungle Busters.