The appointment of I’aulualo Faafetai Talia as the new Executive Director of the Retirement Fund has prompted questions from the public concerning the criminal case he was involved in when he was Director of Human and Social Services/
KHJ News recaps the final disposition of that case for the public’s understanding.
In 2013 I’aulualo, then Vice Speaker of the House plead no contest to the charge of misuse of official information when he was DHSS director.
He was ordered to perform 200 hours of community service and pay a $500 fine.
Associate Justice Lyle Richmond, the defense and the government described the case as one motivated by I’aulualo’s desire to aid a dying woman.
I’aulualo admitted that on September 6, 2008 he aided former DHSS employee Aualuma Pese to receive about $1,300 in wages even though she was away for medical treatment and was not entitled to a paycheck as she had exhausted all annual and sick leave.
Pese eventually lost her battle with cancer but prior to her death, she made arrangements with the government and paid back the money she owed .
I’aulualo’s attorney Sharron Rancourt pointed out at sentencing that I’aualualo did not gain any personal benefit from what he did.
Independent Prosecutor Marcellus Talaimalo Uiagalelei also said I’aulualo was motivated to “aid a dying woman” and in doing so broke the law.
Justice Richmond agreed with the assessment that Ia’ulualo acted to help an employee but said the court needs to send a message and things must be done in accordance with the law.
I’aulualo was sentenced to 1 year probation and as a condition, he is to serve 15 days in jail.
However the jail time was stayed as long as he abided by other conditions of his probation.
These include performing 200 hours of community service, visiting his probation officer once every three months, and remaining law abiding.
I’aulualo was the unanimous choice of the Retiremnent Fund Board of Directors to be the new Executive Director of the Retirement Fund.
Board Chairman Vaanatiu Toafala says I’aulualo’s two year contract is effective tomorrow.