ASG only recoups just over $2Mil of NEG funds defrauded by NHHC

Nearly $5Mil was paid to Native Hawaiian Holding Company
fili@samoanews.com

Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has confirmed that the American Samoa government is only able to recoup just over $2 million of the nearly $5 million paid to Native Hawaiian Holding Company (NHHC), which was awarded a multi-million dollar contract funded by the federal National Emergency Grant (NEG) program following the 2009 earthquake and tsunami to provide among other things a job training and call center.

NHHC official Quin Ngoc Rudinhad signed the ASG contract with former Human Resources Department Director Evelyn Vaitautolu Langford.

Under the area of financial overview of the governor’s official State of the Territory Address Comprehensive Report, Lolo said the administration was “critical in prosecuting those responsible for the failure” of the NEG program, in which American Samoa was awarded $28 million to create permanent jobs and training for displaced workers.

Lolo said NHHC, contracted by ASG, “failed to provide these services” and with the former DHR Director and NHHC representative currently in prison “for fraud, ASG could not recoup $4.9 million paid to the company.”

The administration “was able to acquire only $2.5 million of disallowed costs” for the NEG program, the governor said. (Lolo didn’t identify the former DHR director and NHHC representative by name in the report.)

This is the same amount — $2.5 million — that ASG is required to pay back to the US Department of Labor, which administered the NEG, but the administration has successful sought to waive the local government’s obligation to pay the money back, and the $2.5Mil is now slated to come directly to ASG.

As previously reported by Samoa News, Rudin was sentenced last October by the federal court in San Francisco to serve 84 months in federal prison and pay nearly $40 million in restitution to his victims, which includes the American Samoa Government. Rudin’s case stems from a federal indictment in 2013 in which the federal government accused him of defrauding US companies.

However, the NEG program case was included in this federal case, during Rudin’s sentencing. Then Attorney General Talauega Elesalo Ale wrote last year to the federal court, saying that Rudin’s “crimes were not victimless in any sense of the word. His selfishness and greed has a negative, harmful and long lasting impact on the American Samoa Government and the people of American Samoa, especially given the purpose of the money he stole.”

A 7-page judgment document, not only provides details of the defendant’s sentencing but also total restitution which includes $3.13 million (or $3,131,974) to be paid to the “American Samoa Government, Office of the Attorney General, Attn: National Emergency Grant.” (Samoa News has been unable to find out specifics of the difference in the dollar amount of the federal ‘total restitution’ and Governor Lolo’s recovery amount.)

For Langford, she was sentenced in June 2015 to 22 months in prison and is to pay restitution of $260,000 for convictions of wire fraud and bribery. Federal prosecutors accused Langford of accepting more than $200,000 from a government contractor — referring to Rudin — in exchange for favorable treatment.

Of interest is that Langford’s plea agreement with federal prosecutors cannot be accessed by the public on federal electronic court records. The agreement was filed in early part of 2015.

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