Samoa Times / PACNEWS
A 32-year-old Samoan woman who stole a fine mat (afuelo) from another woman and then sold it to a Tongan individual has been sent to jail in Samoa.
Sauleli’a Amituana’i, also known as Li’a Amituana’i used the $300 she received from the deal to buy food for her children.
She later on tried to bribe a public servant with $200 in an effort to falsely change the ownership of a vehicle for her own benefit.
Chief Justice Michael Kruse sentenced Amituana’i to serve a period of detention of 20 months, as a condition of her 5 -year probation.
The government charged Amituana’i in two separate criminal cases. In the first case, Amituana’i was charged with stealing and embezzlement, both class C felonies. In the second case, she was charged with attempted stealing, attempted fraud, and bribery of a public servant — all class D felonies.
Under a plea agreement with the government, Amituana’i pled guilty to an amended charge in the first case — stealing, a class and count 3 in the second case, bribery of a public servant.
With her guilty plea, Amituana’i, 32, admits that on July 17, 2017, she stole a special fine mat (afuelo) from another woman and then sold it to another for $300. She told police that she needed the money to buy food for her young children.
For the charge of bribery of a public servant, Amituana’i admits that on July 11, 2017, she offered $200 to an employee of the Office of the Motor Vehicles (OMV) in Tafuna in an effort to change the ownership of a vehicle for her own benefit.
Amituana’i, who remains in custody at the TCF, unable to post a $10,000 bond, appeared in court last week for sentencing.
She was represented by Acting Public Defender Michael White, while Woodrow Pengelly of the Attorney General’s Office prosecuted the case.
When given the chance to address the court, Amituana’i apologized to the court for her actions, and asked for a second chance to be with her children who are living with her mother in Australia.
“I promise I’ve learned a lot since I was detained in prison. I feel remorseful for what I did and I want to go back home to be with my children. At this time, both my husband and I are detained in prison, and it’s been 10 months since I have been locked up and separated from my young and beautiful children, who are living with my mother in Australia,” Amituana’i said with tears in her eyes.
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