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By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa, (Samoa News, Feb. 20) - American Family Life Assurance Company (AFLAC) co-defendant, Anevili Semeatu, escaped a jail term when she was sentenced at the federal court in Honolulu last Friday.

Semeatu was among the eight local residents that faced federal charges last year for defrauding the Columbus, Georgia-based AFLAC out of $280,000 in a medical insurance scheme that occurred at the LBJ Medical Center.

She was originally charged with several federal counts along with her co-defendants, but in the summer of last year she reached a plea agreement with prosecutors in which she pled guilty to one count of mail fraud.

Under the plea agreement, Semeatu also faced the maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine but the final determination was up to the court.

During sentencing last Friday, the other charges against her were dismissed based on a motion by the United States government. U.S. District Court Judge Susan Oki Mollway sentenced Semeatu to 5 years probation.

She was also ordered to pay $18,000 in restitution which "owed jointly and severally with co-defendants Tausiga Toluali'i Ofoia and Ateliana Te'o and due immediately to AFLAC," according to federal court records.

Semeatu was also ordered to pay a special assessment fee of $100.

Ofoia and Te'o, considered by prosecutors as the key defendants in the case, were sentenced last month each receiving jail terms.

Several conditions were also imposed on Semeatu's probation, which include the defendant not committing any crimes (federal, state, or local level) and this is a mandatory condition.

She is also barred from possession of illegal controlled substance (another mandatory condition) and firearms. She was advised by the court of her right to appeal.

Neither prosecutors nor defense attorneys could be reached for comments on the case including where Semeatu will serve her probation.

The last defendant in this case to be sentenced, Kilepoa Tuitama, is scheduled for July this year. Like the rest of the defendants, Tuitama also pled guilty which was announced in court last month, just days before his trial.

All of the defendants were out on a security bond.

Among other allegations lodged against Semeatu, a federal grand jury indictment handed down in February last year against her and the co-defendants, notes the specifics of two medical insurance claims filed by Semeatu.

In the first case, the indictment said that around July 28, 1999 defendant Ofoia falsely certified medical records showing that a patient, identified by the indictment as "Isitolo Semeatu Jr." had been hospitalized, to support a claim filed by defendant Semeatu.

Around August 6 of the same year, the indictment said that Ofoia and Semeatu submitted the alleged false claim to AFLAC, knowing that the patient "did not exist."

Then around Aug. 11 an AFLAC benefit check in the amount of $12,100 was paid by AFLAC for the fraudulent claim, and around August 19 of that same year, Semeatu allegedly cashed the benefit check for this particular claim.

In the second case, the indictment said, Ofoia also allegedly falsely certified medical records around Nov. 25, 1999 for another patient that also "did not exist" based on a claimed filed by Semeatu.

For this particular false claim, the indictment alleges that Semeatu cashed on Dec. 14 the AFLAC benefit check worth $5,900.

February 26, 2004

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