Ex ASPA Employee Gets 7 Years Behind Bars

A former employee of the American Samoa Power Authority was sentenced Friday to 7 years behind bars for embezzlement.

Makerita Leituane, charged with misappropriating debit meter payments at the ASPA branch on Aunuu Island, has spent 6 months in pre trial confinement at the Territorial Correctional Facility.

Her husband begged Chief Justice Michael Kruse to give his wife a chance for a fresh start saying she’s needed at home to take care of their children, and himself, as he’s sick.

He said without a mother in the family, there is no hope, no happiness and no one to carry out the obligations of a mother.

Mr. Leituane also told the court his wife is needed to take care of their elderly mother, their church, and village.

The defendant expressed remorse, saying she has learnt a valuable lesson from her time in jail.

And she vowed this wll be her first and last time in court.

She apologized to ASPA’s management for being a dishonest employee and to her family, husband and children for the disgrace she has caused them.

Public Defender, Douglas Fiaui, recommended a probated sentence.

The Chief Justice did not allow a new submission by Assistant Attorney General Robert Morris concerning the amount that was misappropriated.

While court records showed $3,360 as the amount, the submission that the prosecutor was trying to introduce Friday showed that it was more than $18,000.

Kruse said the government had already accepted a plea agreement in this case, with the original amount.

He told the prosecutor if he wished to pursue the case as a civil matter, this can be done later, but the government has already accepted the defendant’s plea agreement with the only amount known in court documents of over $3,000.

Before he sentenced the defendant, the Chief Justice Michael Kruse reflected on several cases of young mothers who work and steal from their employers only to remember their children and husbands after commiting a crime.

He also referenced a similar case where an ANZ female employee misappropriated $90,000 which resulted in the closure of the Manu’a branch of ANZ.

Assisting Kruse on the bench were Associate Judges Mamea Sala and Muasau Tofili.

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