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Woman who stole from her parents’ business is released from custody

American Samoa High Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A young woman who was sentenced to 28 months detention after she was convicted of stealing money from her parents' business by forging their signatures was released from custody last week after Associate Justice Fiti Sunia granted her motion for early release.

Nicole T. Maxey appeared in High Court last week, represented by private attorney David Vargas. Prosecuting was Assistant Attorney General Christy Dunn.

Counsel Vargas told the court that during sentencing last May, his client’s family assured the court that they would send Nicole off island for a better future and to seek treatment for her drug problem.

Vargas acknowledged the presence of Nicole’s family in court, including her parents, who are the victims in this case.

He asked the court to modify Nicole’s probation to allow her to return home to care for her parents, especially her sick father. He added that Nicole's parents want her back home to help them with the family business and to care for them.

When given the chance to address the court, Nicole said being in custody for one full year has not been a good thing for her, especially when her parents come to visit every weekend and bring her food.

“When I did is, I hurt my family and I learned my lesson, that breaking the law is not a good thing,” Nicole, 24, told the court. She asked for a chance to return home to care for her parents, especially her Dad who is very sick.

“A lot of bad things happened to me when I started taking drugs. There is no excuse for my actions and I take full responsibility for what I have done. I stole money from my parents to buy drugs. I used drugs and couldn’t get away from it. It ruined my life and it destroyed who I am,” Nicole told the court.

Sunia continued the matter for 24 hours, to give the court time to review the case and consider a decision.

Nicole appeared in court the following day - Friday last week.

On that day, Sunia said the court is aware that the victims in this case are the defendant’s parents, who are the same people Nicole wants to return home to, and care for.

Sunia reminded Vargas and Nicole that despite the motive for their motion, “to care for the parents, who are also the victims in this case,” the court wants to emphasize that the motion does not make the offense any less serious.

Sunia said Nicole was convicted of a serious offense, and there is nothing that can take that fact away.

“After reviewing your motion, we find that your intention to care for your parents, who are the victims in this case, is important to us. So, we grant your motion and modify conditions of your probation,” Sunia told the defendant.

He reminded Nicole that all conditions of her 7-year probation handed down last year remain the same — it’s only the period of detention that the court will modify.

Nicole was ordered to serve detention of 28 months, however, the court defers the balance - which is 16 months. Nicole is released from custody, subject to all conditions of probation handed down May 13, 2018.

In addition, the court orders Nicole to submit to random testing. “Don’t disappoint this court,” Sunia advised.


Nicole, a former employee of CSL Cargo Services, was initially charged in two separate cases. She was charged with stealing and forgery; both class C felonies, in both cases.

Under a plea agreement with the government, Nicole pled guilty to forgery in each case.

She admitted that on or about Apr. 23, 2017 she stole money from her former employer by forging signatures on three CSL checks that she took without permission, and cashed them for personal use. The checks were made out to her for $650, $650 and $375.