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He’s accused of stealing checks from his Aunty — and forging her signature

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man accused of stealing checks from his aunt’s business last year has been released from jail to await sentencing, after the court granted a signed plea agreement between him and the government.

Anthony Sema who had been in custody since his arrest last year, unable to post a $5,000 surety bond appeared in court last week for a Change of Plea hearing. He’s represented by Assistant Public Defender Ryan Anderson, while prosecuting the case is Assistant Attorney General Kristine Soule.

Sema, 29, was initially charged with two counts of forgery; one count of fraudulent use of a credit device; and one count of passing a bad check; all class C felonies, punishable by imprisonment terms of up to 7 years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

Under a plea agreement with the government, accepted by the Court this month, Sema pled guilty to count 3 of the information, and fraudulent use of a credit device.

By his guilty plea, the defendant admits that on Jan. 27, 2020, he used a check, knowing it was stolen to purchase goods with a value over $100.

After the court accepted the plea agreement, Anderson asked the court to release his client on his own recognizance (OR) to await sentencing. He told the court that the victim in this case is his client’s aunt and he understands that the aunt wants him to pay the money back.

The prosecutor echoed the defense attorney’s motion.

The court granted the motion to release the defendant pending sentencing. The court said that there is no need for a ‘stay away’ order from the victim in this matter because the defendant and the victim are related.

Sentencing is set for Mar. 27th.