Samoa Police Report
FORMER BANK SUPERVISOR JAILED
Apia, SAMOA — Former Samoa Commercial Bank (SCB) supervisor, Rosalina Metala Ioka was charged with two criminal counts of theft as a servant and false accounting to which she pleaded guilty. These charges are both felonies.
According to the police summary of facts, the defendant was employed by the Samoa Commercial Bank (SCB) and she was the supervisor for its branch cash vault at Vaitele. The police claim that on July 30, 2016 the defendant stole $125,938.04 from the SCB branch cash vault at Vaitele.
According to the defendant, she altered the amount already entered by one of its employees on the tally system that records the bank’s daily transactions to facilitate her stealing the money. Counsel for the defendant in her mitigation concedes that with the circumstances of the offending and the amount taken the court would most likely impose a custodial sentence.
The prosecution in their submissions asked the court to adopt a five years starting point. Sentencing was handed down by Supreme Court Justice Mata Tuatagaloa who noted that the pre-sentence report provides the background of the defendant who had a good educational background having completed her secondary education. The defendant also had a good employment history of about 10 years with the Samoa Commercial Bank and attained management level position.
There are positive testimonials from the defendant’s sister, her faifeau and a matai Sa’o of her village of Faleula. Ioka is 38-year-old mother of two children.
The aggravating factors of the offense is that there was a significant breach of trust as she was the supervisor and that the offending was pre-meditated. The big amount was stolen on one day unlike the offending of the same type where such amount is said to be stolen over a period of time. The mitigating factors are that the defendant is a first offender and the testimonials provided suggest that the defendant was of good character prior to the offending.
The court accepts those testimonials as to the defendant’s prior character. Another mitigating factor is her early pleas of guilty. Tuatagaloa pointed out that given the circumstances of this offending the obvious sentence is one of custodial. She was sentenced to three years in jail and she was reminded that she’s eligible to be considered for parole when she has served half of her sentence.
43 YEAR OLD TAXI DRIVER WHO RAPED 15-YEAR-OLD, JAILED
Apia, SAMOA — Supreme Court Justice Mata Tuatagaloa handed down a 16-month sentence for Wiser Key, a 43-year-old taxi driver who pleased guilty to unlawful sexual connection with a girl under 16-years-old, which carries a maximum penalty of not more than 10 years in jail.
According to the police summary of facts, on Tuesday, March 3, 2015 around 9am the victim was at the Market in Fugalei when the accused drove by in his taxi. He stopped and asked what she was doing there and then asked the victim to accompany him to Lotopa. They drove off and the victim asked the defendant to take her to her house at Aleisa and the accused asked her if she has any money to pay for her fare and the victim replied ‘no’.
The defendant drove to a motel at Lotopa, paid for a room and told the victim to go wait for him in the room and the victim complied. He had sexual intercourse with the victim in the room and the accused told the victim to wait in the room while he went to run an errand and left. The manager of the motel took the victim to the police station.
The defendant is married with children and the pre-sentence report says the defendant doesn’t drive a taxi anymore. The defendant’s wife told the court the accused is a caring and a loving husband to her and their children. The defendant’s pastor also vouches for his good character and said that what happened was out of character for the defendant and that he’s already apologized to the victim’s family and has been accepted.
Justice Tuatagaloa notes that there are several aggravating factors of this offending; the defendant targeted a vulnerable young woman sitting by herself with no one else around or near her. There is also the age difference of 28 years between the accused and victim. The defendant also had a plan thus the reason why he approached the victim and the plan turns out to be one with the intention to have sexual intercourse with a minor.
“This sort of offending upon young girls will always have an impact upon the young victims,” said Tuatagaloa during sentencing last week.
The mitigating factors are that the defendant’s wife says that Key is a caring husband and loving father. The village Mayor of Toamua where the defendant lives said that he is an honest and reliable member of the village police who serve the village of Toamua. The defendant’s pastor also says that the defendant is a responsible, trustworthy and reliable member of the church.
“All these in my view confirm that the accused was of good character until this offending. The accused and his family have apologized to the victim’s family and it has been accepted. This is a sign of remorse on the accused’s part and his accepting of responsibility for his behavior. The delay in sentencing was not the accused fault,” said Tuagtaloa. In the circumstances of this particular offending, taking in to account the aggravating factors, the defendant is convicted and sentenced to 16 months imprisonment.
STEALING CASE LANDS WOMAN AT TAFA’iGATA
Apia, SAMOA — Former employee for SL Refrigeration (Samoa) Ltd as Administration Officer, Faatonu Lotonu’u appeared before Supreme Court Justice Mata Tuatagaloa for sentencing two weeks ago for 13 charges of theft as a servant, 12 charges of obtaining by deception and 12 charges of forgery.
According to the summary of facts by the police, on 12 separate occasions the defendant would tear out blank cheques from her employer’s cheque book and from 07 June – 28 July 2015 she forged the owner’s signature on the company cheques, and used them to purchase goods from various companies. The total amount she stole from the company was $15,374.54.
According to the report, the defendant is 29-years-old, married with five children. She had worked in several jobs mainly as a cashier or shop assistant. In 2010 she started working for SL Refrigeration Company. She has been terminated as a result of this offending and is currently unemployed.
The defendant told the probation service that her actions were driven by anger and hars feelings towards her employer because her employer was very disrespectful and unkind to the employees including her. The defendant admitted to the probation service of her stealing the company cheques and forging the owner’s signature that she had learnt by heart. She used the forged cheques for personal and grocery shopping for her family. Even though the defendant had personally apologized to the owner of the company she worked for, the owner felt betrayed and did not accept the apology.
The owner told the probation service that this is not the first time the defendant had stolen from the company as she was forgiven and she still employed her. However this time she leaves the matter with the Court.
Justice Tuataglao notes that the defendant is a first offender and her husband told the probation service that their family financially depends mostly on the defendant. The defendant’s husband is said to be shocked and disappointed with the defendant for what she has done. The testimonial from the defendant’s Pastor of the Seventh Day Adventist Church attests to the defendant’s contribution as a Sunday School teacher and a proactive person in church work and youth activities. It is however noticeable that there are no testimonials from previous employers of the defendant given that she had worked for various other employers prior to SL Refrigeration Company. Those testimonials from previous employers would have provided the Court as to her character as an employee, which is an issue with her offending.
Tuatagaloa notes that the most obvious is the breach by the defendant of her employer’s trust in her. The Surpreme Court Justice also pointed out this was not a one-off incident of fraud but 12 separate incidents from 07 June – 28 July 2015. This shows that the offending was planned and pre-meditated. The defendant by learning off by heart the owner’s signature shows a high degree of pre-meditation and that $15,374.54 is a significant amount to SL Refrigeration Company.
“As such, it would definitely have an impact on the company’s books and would affect its operations for a certain period. Samoa is a small country and work is limited therefore the competition will be very high especially so if there are other companies providing the same service.” The defendant was sentenced to serve 18 months.