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Two former O&O employees change their pleas

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Two of the three former employees of O&O Enterprises in Nuuuli charged for their alleged connection in a scam that cost the company over $19,000 have entered into a plea agreement with the government.

Kalala Leilua and Siueli Blake appeared in High Court yesterday morning for their Change of Plea hearings.

Leilua and Blake were each charged with 9 counts of stealing, a class C felony, punishable by imprisonment for up to 7 years, a $5,000 fine, or pursuant to A.S.C.A 46.2101, a fine equal to twice the amount of gain from the commission of said crime, up to a maximum of $20,000, or both such fine and imprisonment.

But in a plea agreement accepted by the court yesterday, both defendants pled guilty to the amended charge of conspiracy to commit stealing, a class D felony, punishable by up to 5 years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

With their pleas, both women admit that between July 5 and Aug. 28, 2018, they engaged in a scam that cost O&O Enterprises in Nuuuli over $19,000.

According to terms of the plea agreement, Ko, the company owner, told police that he was off island and left his nephew in charge, and he was notified that the inventory didn't match the items that were in the warehouse and the containers.

Ko said Leilua allegedly apologized and confessed, saying she had been stealing supplies from the warehouse and the containers, and selling them to Lucky Seven Store in Nuuuli, for money. Leilua told Ko she shared the money with other co-workers. According to Ko, "everyone got involved because they were taking orders from warehouse manager, Siueli Blake, and Leilua."

Leilua told police she and Blake coordinated the theft. Altogether, according to the criminal complaint, a total of 9 deliveries were made to Lucky Seven.

Blake told police that she and Leilua wanted extra money so they asked Arona Ma'a — the third defendant — for Gao's phone number. She said they had known Ma'a was stealing items from the wholesale for Gao and Lucky Seven.

Blake said Leilua was sent to Lucky Seven to ask Gao if he needed anything, and they would steal it from the O&O warehouse. Deliveries to Lucky Seven were given priority - and when the payment was split for the items, she would "always have the biggest share."

The criminal complaint notes that the total amount of the items stolen from O&O (involving Ma'a, as well as Blake and Leilua) is $19,808.92.