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Trial for Samoan woman in federal fraud case set for early 2020

U.S. Federal District Court for Western Dist. of Washington logo

Seattle, WASHINGTON — The federal court in Seattle, Washington has scheduled a jury trial early next year for a Samoan woman who is alleged to have used identities of children actually living in American Samoa and Samoa to obtain federal benefits.

Charges against thirty-nine-year old Iliganoa Theresa Lauofo, who resides in Tacoma, Washington, was filed late last month. She appeared Dec. 4th before US District Court Judge Mary Alice Thriller for her initial appearance and arraignment hearing.

Court records show that the defendant, who is alleged to have also used identifies of relatives living in California to claim other federal benefits, pled not guilty to all 17 counts cited under a federal indictment.

Federal prosecutors didn’t seek to detain the defendant, who was placed on bond, with the usual federal conditions of release.

Lauofo is represented by the Federal Public Defender’s Office, which requested discovery in the case, with the court setting jury trial for Feb. 10, 2020, before US District Court Judge Richard A. Jones, according to court records.

Lauofo is facing six counts of wire fraud; 4 counts of theft of public funds; 3 counts of Social Security number misuse; 3 counts of aggravated identity theft, and one-count of embezzlement of mail by a postal employee, according to the indictment.

The indictment alleges that Lauofo misrepresented her household composition, income, and identity to collect federally funded assistance benefits to which she was not entitled.  She also used stolen identifies — including that of a deceased ex-husband — to establish fraudulent credit and bank accounts, funded in part by checks she stole while serving as a US Postal Service employee.

Through this fraud, she collected more than $230,000 in federal benefits and other funds to which she was not entitled, prosecutors allege.