“Joke” million dollar theft lands pair in jail
By Aiga Tofilau
APIA: Thursday 26 July, 2012: Two junior employees of the Ministry of Customs & revenue who decided to play a joke on their Chief Executive Officer by stealing ST$1.4 million from the office vault, has landed them in prison for 18 months each. The Supreme Court delivered its decision this morning.
Defense counsel Leota Raymond Schuster told the Court that the defendants only committed the crime to spite their boss. He said what the defendants Eneliko Tui, 22 years of Fagali’i-Uta and Amosa La’autalatala Feausi, 20 years old of Fasito’o-Uta did was out of their normal character. “What they did was more like a joke (mea ula) and had intended to retrun the money later,” he told the Court.
The crime was committed on the 13th February 2012 where the defendants attacked the office vault and walked away with a black bag containing $1.4 million Samoa tala in cash and cheques. They used $2,400 on alcohol and food and returned the rest the next day.
In passing sentence, Justice Lesatele Rapi Vaai noted that the defendants were both new to the Ministry and yet Amosa had the care of the key to the vault.
The Court also noted that the theft as a servant offence is becoming prevalent and it is the Court’s role to see that this is stopped hence the heavy sentences dished out to any guilty defendant.
The original sentence was three and a half years, however, the Court took into consideration the mitigation factors provided by the defense counsel. Two years is deducted from the original sentence after Court considered the time the defendants were under police custody, their age and their guilty pleas which saved Courts time. He also took into account the fact of them being first offenders.
They were both sentenced to serve one and a half years each in prison.