AMERICAN SAMOA GOVERNMENT PROSECUTING ANOTHER FORGED CERTIFICATE OF IDENTITY

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By Candace Le‘i

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (February 14, 2000 – Samoa News)---The government has arrested another person for forging travel documents.

Mahana Litia Tautu was charged with two counts of forgery at her initial appearance in the District Court last Thursday morning.

Bail was set at $10,000 during Tautu's initial appearance, but she was released because she has a six-month old baby.

Tautu is being charged with allegedly forging the name of a friend, Alvina Leiataua, on her Certificate of Identity form in November of last year.

According to police reports, Tautu and her child tried to use the forged papers to fly to Hawai‘i on November 19, 1999, but her attempt was foiled by Immigration Officer Fa‘atui To.

To recognized Tautu as a Samoan who had entered American Samoa from Apia a week earlier, when To was also on duty.

After Tautu was escorted to the Immigration Office, she reportedly informed the Immigration Officers of her real identity and admitted the travel documents were fake, except for her son's papers.

Police reports say Tautu further informed the Immigration Officers that she was from Western Samoa and had indeed entered American Samoa with a Western Samoa three-day permit on November 12, 1999 with her child.

Tautu indicated to police that she borrowed her friend's (Alvina Leiataua's) birth certificate to obtain travel documents and admitted signing Leiataua's name on the November 5, 1999 Certificate of Identity, even though she was not Leiataua.

Prosecuting the case is Assistant Attorney General Robert K. Maez, while Curtis Sherwood of the Public Defender's Office is representing Tautu.

Each count of forgery is a Class C felony that calls for 7 years in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Stories from the SAMOA NEWS, American Samoa's daily newspaper, may not be republished without permission. To contact the publisher, send e-mail to samoanews@samoatelco.com.  For additional reports from the Samoa News, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Samoa News.

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