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Young mother sentenced to 6 months after pleading guilty to stealing check

Justice Lyle L Richmond, Chief Associate Judge Mamea Sala and Associate Judge Tunupopo Alalafaga handed down a six-month jail term for a young mother who admitted to stealing $2,000 from her employer. A former waitress for Don't Drink the Water (DDW) Loretta Selesele who’s been in jail since December pleaded with the court for leniency during her sentencing last Friday.


She was initially charged with stealing and forgery, however in a plea agreement with the government, Selesele entered a guilty plea to stealing and in return for her guilty plea, the government moved to dismiss the remaining count. The incident came to light late last year, when DDW management filed a complaint against the defendant after a check went missing.


During sentencing, the defendant apologized for her actions and pleaded with the court for a second chance noting that she’s learned a huge lesson and that her son and ill father needed her at home. Assistant Public Defender Karen Shelley urged the court to consider a probated sentence for Selesele noting that the days she’s already spent in jail are sufficient. Shelley further stated that the defendant’s family has already paid back the money that was taken from DDW.


However Deputy Attorney General Mitzie Jessop Ta’ase did not think the jail time Selesele had already served sufficient. She told the court that people who plan on stealing should consider the consequences of their actions prior to committing the crime, especially when it comes to how it may affect their families. She said the defendant should have thought about her son before she committed the crime, and said she doesn't believe that 64 days in jail suffices given the crime committed.


Selesele was sentenced to seven years in jail, however execution of sentencing was suspended and the defendant was placed on seven years probation on the conditions that she serves six months. She was also ordered to pay a fine of $1,000, to be paid within a year of her release from the Tafuna Correctional Facility. She was also ordered to remain a law-abiding citizen.


Court documents say that the DDW official informed the police that the defendant cashed a $2,000 check for her personal use forging the owner’s name. It’s alleged that the defendant had resigned from her job at DDW on November 30, 2015.


According to the government’s case, the DDW official stated the owner of the company questioned the $2,000 check during reconciliation of the account. The official followed up with ANZ bank, wherein then printed out a copy of the front and back of the check and in the memo part of the check it noted “employee advance” and on the back of the check it had the official’s name on it with the date of birth 03/18/1994.


The official stated that she did not endorse the check nor did the signature on the check match the owner’s signature.


The DDW official then looked into personnel records and found the birth date on the check matched the defendant’s. It’s alleged that the official contacted the defendant to discuss the matter and the defendant stated that she knew nothing about it. However, when the defendant was taken to the police station, Selesele admitted to the police that she had taken DDW check #8942 without permission, wrote it out to cash for $2,000 and cashed it at the bank.


Court documents say she admitted that she forged the owner’s signature in order to cash it for her own personal use.