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Woman who stole checks from her mother's business sentenced

American Samoa High Court building

Pago Pago, AAMERICAN SAMOA — A woman convicted of fraudulent use of a credit device in a case where she stole checks from her mother’s business over two years ago was sentenced by the High Court to 12 months probation.

Vanessa Annesley, who was released by the court three weeks ago on her own recognizance, appeared before Associate Justice Fiti Sunia this week for sentencing.

Annesley, 33, 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 3 weeks ago, Annesley pled guilty to count 3 of the information, fraudulent use of a credit device, a class D felony, punishable by imprisonment of up to 5 years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both..

By her guilty plea, the defendant admits that on Mar. 7, 2018, she used a check, knowing it was stolen, to purchase goods with a value over $100.

When given a chance to address the court, Annesley apologized for her action. She told the court that what she did more than two years ago was wrong. Today, she’s now a changed person.

Defense attorney, Assistant Public Defender, Rob McNeill asked the court for a probated sentence. He said that the victim in this case is his client’s mother and everything is now settled between them.

Prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General, Laura Garvey informed the court that the government had spoken to the defendant’s mother where she informed her that she already paid the amount of restitution in this matter, which is the amount of the check the defendant cashed at the T.M Supermarket in Pago Pago.

After reviewing facts of the case, Sunia said that the court took some time to reconcile a class D felony that involved over $300 and a class D felony involving thousands of dollars. That being said, the court stated that it’s about time the Fono looks at the law again.

The other issue the court questioned was the time between when the incident happened, which was 2 years ago, and the time police arrested the defendant. The court said the warrant was sitting there for over two years while in the meantime, both parties had reconciled everything.

Annesley was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment. Execution of the imprisonment term was suspended and the defendant was placed on probation for 12 months subject to several conditions.

She shall remain law abiding; visit the probation office once a month; serve a period of detention of 50 days at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF), credited for the 50 days she already served while awaiting the outcome of her case, and pay a fine of $1,000 within the period of her probation.


According to government, it was on Apr. 7, 2018 when the owner of the T.M Supermarket in Pago Pago contacted the Central Police Station for help regarding a check in the amount of $500 endorsed by Vanessa Annesley (defendant in this matter) that bounced when he tried to deposit it into his business account.

According to the business owner, he went to deposit the check from Emelio’s Restaurant made out to the defendant on Mar. 7, 2018 and signed by the owner of the Emelio’s Restaurant. He was told by a teller at the ANZ Bank that the check was unauthorized and to check with the check’s originator.

The businessman contacted the owner of the restaurant and explained the situation to her, where the owner or the Restaurant responded by saying that she does not have an employee named Vanessa Annesley. The owner of the restaurant further stated to the business owner that Annesley was her daughter.

Police interviewed the restaurant owner regarding the check, where she stated to police that she was aware of the check and she had reported it back in March of 2018, and that her daughter (defendant) had stolen checks from her.

The owner of the restaurant further stated to police that the defendant had endorsed the check without her knowledge. She also said that she was unaware of the defendant’s whereabouts.

It was also discovered that the defendant had forged another check from her mother’s restaurant and cashed it out at the TSM grocery in the amount of $300.13 on Mar. 5, 2018.