Stealing, forgery and passing bad checks earns young woman 28 months in jail

A woman in her 20s who was implicated in four separate cases on allegations of stealing, forgery and passing bad checks to get money to “impress her boyfriend and his family” was sentenced to serve 28 months in jail.

 

Fulaau Tuua of Tafuna was initially faced with charges of stealing, forgery and passing bad checks, but a plea agreement offered by the government was accepted by the defendant, wherein Tuua would plead guilty to stealing, forgery and passing bad checks for only two of the cases, and in return the government would not proceed with two additional cases pending with the Attorney General’s office. 

 

The first case against Tuua charges her with forgery and stealing, on allegations she stole a check from ASCC’s business office, forged the signature and cashed it at Family Mart. The second case charges her with passing bad checks and stealing at the MMC Store. This second case alleges she defrauded a store by cashing five checks knowing the checks could not be paid, given there was no money in the account. 

 

The defendant, who has been incarcerated for over five months, apologized for her actions to the court, the government, church and the businesses involved, as well as the Community College; and most especially to her parents. In tears, she asked her parents who were present in the court, to forgive her for not “listening and obeying” them.

 

“I will implore the courage of my farther to be courageous and I'll take my mother’s humbleness to accept whatever decision the court will hand down in sentencing,” said Tuua. The defendant’s father also took the stand with the hope that the court would be lenient in his daughter’s case.

 

He told the court that their daughter is their legal sponsor and she’s the owner of their landscaping business that’s working to clean the roadside. Assistant Public Defender Mike White who represents the defendant stated that Tuua was motivated to “impress her boyfriend and his family” and she was driven by her own greed. He said that she now understands the significance of what happened.

 

Chief Justice Michael Kruse, said “perhaps if we didn't have gullible merchants, we wouldn't be bothered with these sort of crimes.” He stated that the defendant got away with signing checks and cashing them, yet there was no money.

 

For the first case involving Family Mart, the defendant was convicted of stealing and forgery and Kruse sentenced her to seven years for each count. With the second case of stealing, which involved the MMC store, Tuua was sentenced to five years in jail.

 

Kruse made it clear that the sentencing is to run concurrently (at the same time). The court then moved to suspend the sentence of seven years under certain conditions, one of which is that she serve 28 months for stealing and forgery and 20 months for passing bad checks, and pursuant to statute, sentences must run concurrently.

 

She was also ordered to remain a law abiding citizen. Kruse noted that upon serving six months, Tuua may apply for work release and if approved by the Warden, she would be released from Monday to Friday from 6a.m. to 6p.m. Kruse also ordered that she pay restitution and the $3,000 fine and must visit probation upon release.

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