FORMER SAMOA OFFICIAL SENTENCED TO 9 MONTHS

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Admitted stealing more than $3,000 from treasury

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, July 31, 2008) – The Supreme Court in Samoa has sentenced the former auditor of the Customs office in the Ministry of Revenue, Pepe Tevaga, to nine months in jail.

The former auditor and assistant CEO of the Customs finance service had pleaded guilty in June to one count of theft as a servant involving more than 3,000 US dollars of public funds.

15 other charges against her were withdrawn by the police after a plea bargain with the Attorney General.

In sentencing the accused, the Chief justice, Patu Falefatu Sapolu, says it’s a concern for the court that a person with such a high level of education who also held very senior positions in the government as a civil servant committed such a crime.

The Chief Justice says he has taken into account several mitigating factors such as her being a first offender and her assisting thepolice in another criminal case currently heard in court.

Pepe is one of the key witnesses in the case against the former principal accountant of the Customs office, Sio Fepuleai, who is facing four counts of theft as a servant and five of falsifying accounts.

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