RETRIAL SOUGHT IN MARSHALLS EMBEZZLEMENT CONVICTION

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By Giff Johnson

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Marianas Variety, Aug. 22) - The
Marshall Islands High Court is being asked to set a new trial for Louiston
Louis, found guilty by a jury last month for stealing $393,000 from the College
of the Marshall Islands, on the ground that he was taken to trial on the wrong
charges.

This appeal motion will be heard this Friday by High Court
acting Chief Justice Carl Ingram. If the motion is denied, Ingram will sentence
Louis on the 64 counts for which the jury found him guilty.

Louis’ defense attorney David Lowe’s motion, filed earlier
this week, seeks High Court action for a new trial on the 64 guilty counts
involving about $393,000 that was taken from the college while Louis was the
comptroller from 1999-2002.

Louis was charged for stealing more than $641,000 from the
college in the largest embezzlement case in the history of the Marshall Islands.
But Lowe said the problem is precisely that his client was not charged with
"embezzlement."

Lowe said the High Court made an error when it denied Louis’
earlier motion for acquittal because the evidence provided was not adequate to
convict Louis on cheating and larceny, the two charges that he faced at trial.
The evidence "is only sufficient to go to the jury on the crime of
embezzlement," Lowe said.

Lowe said that an essential element in the charges of grand
larceny and cheating is "unlawful taking," which he claims the
evidence failed to prove.

"Instead the government offered evidence of an embezzlement
upon which the jury convicted the defendant of grand larceny and cheating,"
Lowe said.

The High Court can correct its earlier error of denying Louis a
new trial and the error of the jury that convicted Louis of 32 counts each of
grand larceny and cheating "without any evidence of an unlawful
taking," he said.

"There was no trespass, there was only a trusted employee
whose signature had to be on every check," Lowe said. "The defendant
was the only person who had the lawful possession of the checks in question up
to and including the time the checks were cashed or otherwise negotiated. The
defendant cannot be guilty of any larceny but only, if properly charged, tried
and convicted, of embezzlement."

August 22, 2003

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com 

 

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