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Woman jailed for ten consecutive weekends for fraudulent use of credit card

Naomi Mavaega, convicted of stealing a woman’s purse, using $40 and attempting to use the victim’s credit card, was sentenced to serve ten consecutive weekends in jail. She started serving her time last Friday, where she reported into the Tafuna Correctional Facility Friday at 6 p.m. and was released Sunday at 6 p.m.

Mavaega was initially charged with stealing and fraudulent use of a credit device, however in a plea agreement the defendant pled guilty to fraudulent use of a credit device while the government moved to dismiss the stealing count.

The plea agreement that was struck between the defendant and the government has the defendant agreeing to pay $40 to the victim for restitution.

Sentencing was handed down by Chief Justice Michael Kruse.

Among the issues brought up during the sentencing last week Friday, was how the defendant would feed her infant child while incarcerated, and how she would renew her expired immigration ID.

Assistant Attorney General Kimberly Hyde informed the court that she filed her recommendations on what she felt would best serve the issue regarding the defendant breastfeeding her baby, however, details were not revealed in court.

Regarding the expired ID, Assistant Public Defender Leslie Cardin told the court that the defendant’s father, who is her sponsor, was in the mainland undergoing medical treatment and only recently returned on island.

Cardin further stated that another reason for the delay in the defendant getting her ID, was because she needed clearance from the hospital — however unless she pays her bill at the hospital, she cannot obtain the clearance that is required for her ID.

Cardin pleaded with the court for leniency for the defendant, noting that she seemed to be having financial issues. Not only did she owe money to a taxi stand owner, but she was also trying to care for her infant baby and family obligations.

She put it to the court that the defendant has an infant baby who is breastfed and the defendant should be with her baby to care for and feed the baby. Cardin added that the defendant did not have a prior record and has been living in the territory since she was six months old. “I think she’s not a bad person, but she made a bad decision,” said Cardin.

Kruse sentenced the defendant to three years in jail, however execution of sentencing was suspended and the defendant placed on three years probation under certain conditions. He further said the defendant must be jailed for one year, however the court will stay the jail term, except for ten consecutive weekends in jail.

At the completion of six months, the defendant will depart the territory and remain outside the territory for the duration of her probation term. However, if the defendant obtains her immigration ID, then that order will be stayed.

The defendant was also ordered to remain a law abiding citizen while in the territory. He told the defendant that there’s enough crooks in the territory and there is no need to export more crooks.

“If you want to remain here, remain lawfully and thank your baby you’re not in jail for long” said Kruse. The Chief Justice further told the defendant that he could have kept the $500 bond as the fine, but instead, he would leave the money so the defendant could pay her hospital bill and attain her immigration ID.

Earlier this month the Chief Justice raised concerns about the increasing number of females who are coming before the court charged with stealing or misappropriating money; and many are first time offenders.

He added that has been happening a lot and it’s difficult for the court to render the appropriate sentence upon what is recommended, especially in light of the victims of the crimes.

In the case of Mavaega, the CJ noted that it was crime of opportunity against an elderly lady, who was at the hospital to see the doctor.