Man terminated from job accused of returning to steal $40K
A man accused of stealing more than $40,000 from the Tri Marine office at the Samoa Tuna Processor’s plant in Atu’u made his initial appearance in District Court yesterday. Filoiali’i Mata’u of Pago Pago is facing charges of first degree burglary, stealing and property damage second degree.
The burglary count is a class B felony punishable from five to 15 years in jail, while the stealing count is a class C felony punishable by up to seven years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000, or a fine equal to twice the amount gained from commission of said crime, up to $20,000. The property damage charge is a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail, a fine of $1,000 or both.
Mata’u is held on bail of $40,000 and is represented by Assistant Public Defender Karen Shelley while prosecuting is Assistant Attorney General Tony Graf.
According to the government’s case, on June 27, 2013 police were contacted by an employee of Samoa Tuna Processors about a burglary wherein $41,000 cash for the company’s payroll went missing.
The employee told police that the day before the incident, the company had cash of $41,000 for payroll in the safe. The employee returned the next day to the office and could not locate the safe. During the investigation into the missing money, police were told that a former employee of the company was seen driving in a rental car and wearing new clothes yet he had been terminated two weeks prior to the incident.
On July 8, 2013 court filings say, police approached the defendant who allegedly admitted that two weeks after he was terminated he returned to the Tri Marine owned Samoa Tuna Processors’ office with a black bag, a hammer, a screw driver and a knife.
Court filings say, Mata’u admitted he entered the company’s office through the window and in the office he found a safe for which he could not locate the key, so he allegedly took the safe.
The government further claims the defendant informed police that he opened the safe and found $23,000 after which he threw away the safe, the hammer and the screwdriver he used. The police located the safe, where the defendant stated he had left it.
Police also spoke to a female, who was seeing the defendant after the money was missing from the tuna company.
The girl told police Mata’u always invited her to go cruising and go to the movies with the defendant. She also told police that she observed new clothes, hats, shoes and sunglasses in the rental car the defendant was driving. Court filings say, the girl told police that one evening, Mata’u told her that police came talk to him about missing money from Tri-Marine and he admitted to the girl that he had stolen the money.
The girl said the defendant also told her that he took $23,000. The government further claims that the girl asked the defendant of the whereabouts of the money, but he said he had spent it all.
Court filings further say, the girl turned into police Jordan brand sandals and a baseball cap which she claimed had been given to her by Mata’u. Aside from the missing money, the government claims the value of the luggage and safe removed from the office was $280.