30-YEAR-SENTENCE FOR SAMOA MONEY SCHEME

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By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa, (Samoa News, July 29) - The
ringleader of a mainland investment scheme, that also involved co-defendant and
former American Samoa resident William Hugh Cravens, was sentenced yesterday in
Seattle.

60-year old John Wayne Zidar was sentenced yesterday, at the
federal court in Seattle, to 30-years in jail.

News reports out of Seattle, quoted presiding federal Judge
Barbara Rothstein saying in court yesterday that sentencing guidelines required
a life prison term for Zidar.

She ruled that 30 years at Zidar's age was the equivalent of a
life term.

Zidar was convicted last August of conspiracy to commit mail and
wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, seven counts of mail fraud,
seven counts of wire fraud and nine counts of money laundering.

Federal prosecutors said Zidar's scheme bilked about $74 million
out of more than 3,000 mainland investors with only a little over $20 million
recovered so far by federal authorities.

Much of the $20 million was deposited in nine bank accounts at
the ANZ Bank in Apia, Samoa, controlled by co-defendant Cravens, president of
the Private International Development Banc (PIDB) of American Samoa and his
co-defendants.

Federal prosecutor Carl Blackstone told Samoa News that the
majority of the money deposited in Samoa has since been returned to a federal
court-appointed trustee in Seattle for re-distribution to victims of the scam.

Five other people either pleaded guilty or were convicted at
trial on charges of fraud or conspiracy in the scheme.

Cravens is among three defendants who pled guilty to his role in
the scheme under a plea agreement with the US government and had testified for
the prosecution during Zidar's trial.

He was originally scheduled to be sentenced earlier this month
but Blackstone said sentencing has been continued to August 22 this year,
declining to provide a reason for the sentencing postponement.

Cravens, out on a security bond and living at his La Jolla,
California home, will be sentenced together with co-defendant Elizabeth
Phillips.

August 5, 2003

Samoa News: www.samoanews.com 

 

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