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Prosecution argues Samoan man accused in fraud case should not receive bail

U.S. Federal District Court House, Salt Lake City, Ut.
… the defendant is an unmanageable risk in the community

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — In arguing to keep defendant, Misiona Patane in federal custody pending his trial, federal prosecutors contend that the “totality of the evidence supports a finding that the defendant is an unmanageable risk in the community.”

And to further the fraudulent schemes, the defendant used fake documents purporting to be from the Prime Minister of Samoa and a Samoa Cabinet official, as well as using a fake letterhead to the court in which the  “Head of State” of Samoa’s letterhead was used.

Prosecutors made these and other arguments in a Jan. 13 filing in response to a defense motion for the federal court in Salt Lake City, Utah to review US District Court Magistrate Judge Jared Bennett’s ruling — following a Dec. 29, 2021 detention — for the defendant to remain in federal custody pending trial.

The defense on Jan. 10 filed a two-page request to the court for a hearing on Judge Bennett’s ruling and federal prosecutors responded with a 12-page motion, arguing that it was established during the Dec. 29 detention hearing that a full consideration of factors supports a finding that there is no condition or combination of release conditions that can assure the safety of the community or the defendant’s required appearance at future court proceedings.

A 14-page federal indictment handed down Dec. 15, 2021 outlined the charges and details against Patane, 57, — aka, Papalii Patane, aka, Junior Patane — and his wife, Lavinia Patane, 54. The couple is accused of defrauding one set of victims out of $1.25 million dollars, along with a related scheme to defraud a “vulnerable adult” out of $2.4 million. (See Samoa News editions Jan. 10 for details.)

Prosecutors argued in its Jan. 13 filing that the weight of evidence against Misiona Patane is “substantial”. For example, as part of its investigation, the federal government traced the spending of the stolen money.

They claimed that financial records establish that a substantial portion of the stolen money was transferred to personal accounts belonging to the defendant and his wife.

Furthermore, the stolen money was spent by the defendants for extensive travel, to include foreign travel; for credit cards in the names of the defendant and/or his wife; for personal expenses of the defendants; and for numerous cash withdrawals and spending in Las Vegas, that coincides with the same time period during which Misiona Patane engaged in extensive gambling at Vegas casinos.


According to prosecutors, “history and characteristics” of the defendant support detention in this case, which is his third criminal case in the same, federal Salt Lake City federal court.

They told the court that a review of the defendant’s criminal history reflects that his criminal behavior not only has continued over the course of more than a decade, but also has escalated in terms of the nature and seriousness of his criminal conduct.

In 2007, the defendant was convicted in a misdemeanor case for attempting to obtain information by false pretenses. Two years later in 2009, he was charged with wire fraud — where the defendant falsified construction invoices and other documents for the purpose of obtaining bank funds.

According to prosecutors, the defendant set up a bank account to facilitate his theft and he fraudulently obtained $1.7 million for his own personal benefit. He was sentenced in the wire fraud case 2014.

For the current case, prosecutors point to the indictment, which states in part that the alleged crime started as early as 2015 — when the defendant was on probation for the wire fraud case.


Prosecutors point to the lack of respect by the defendant to the court, relating to information provided to the U.S Probation office.

In connection with his 2014 wire fraud sentencing and subsequent probation, prosecutors said the defendant made false statements regarding his finances to US Probation.

In the preparation of his pre-sentence report (PSR), the defendant made statements regarding his inability to pay fines, and his monthly income. Based on the financial information contained in the PSR, no fines were imposed.

“Unbeknownst to the Court or U.S Probation, the defendant gambled with $1.25 million ‘cash-in-cage’ at Las Vegas casinos in the two months leading up to his sentencing,” prosecutors claimed.

Shortly before he was scheduled to get off probation in 2016, prosecutors said the defendant submitted financial information to US Probation that purported to document a lack of assets. And the defendant was permitted to end probation in March 2016 without a show cause hearing as to his failure to make timely restitution payments while on probation.

But in “March 2016, the defendant gambled with $225,000 ‘cash-in-cage’ at Las Vegas casinos. To date, the Defendant still owes almost the entirety of the $1.7 million in restitution for his 2014 wire fraud conviction, and he has made numerous claims regarding a lack of money to pay,” prosecutors point out.

“Records reflect that, from 2014 to the present, the defendant has gambled with $10 million ‘cash-in-cage’ at Las Vegas casinos,” they further argued.


In furtherance of the alleged schemes to defraud the two sets of victims in the current case, prosecutors said the defendant engaged in extensive travel to Samoa, and has continued to engage in foreign travel since the schemes ended.

Financial records recovered from the defendant’s home in December 2021 reveal that he has access to a bank account in Samoa, as well as records reflecting a substantial loan from a bank in Samoa in or around 2017.

Furthermore, the defendant’s business/employment is based in Samoa.


During the course of its investigation, prosecutors said the government identified a total of three different social security numbers used by the defendant. In addition, the government has uncovered a large number of false/fraudulent documents in this case.

To further his schemes to defraud, the defendant utilized the following: fraudulent documents purporting to be from a U.S. government agency; fraudulent documents purporting to be from the Prime Minister of Samoa and a Samoan Cabinet official; fake birth certificates from New Zealand; falsified power of attorney document; fraudulent emails; fake DNA tests; and fraudulent invoices.

Prosecutors also said it investigated the character reference letters submitted to a federal judge at the time of the defendant’s sentencing in wire fraud case. For example, one letter was on “Head of State” letterhead.

And the language appeared similar to some of the language in the fraudulent documents identified in the current case.  This “Head of State” character reference letter, along with the documents in the pending case purporting to be from the Prime Minister of Samoa and a Samoa Cabinet official, were provided to US Embassy employees.

The US Embassy in Samoa followed up with police and foreign ministry contacts. The contacts stated that both in style and in substance, all three documents appeared to be fake.

During the December 2021 search of the defendant’s home, law enforcement recovered blank “Head of State” letterhead identical to the letterhead submitted to the federal court, according to prosecutors.


In conclusion, prosecutors argued that the lengthy period that the defendant has engaged in criminal conduct — both in the current and in prior cases, the serious nature of the crimes, the escalation of the defendant’s criminal behavior, the level of deceit he used, and his pattern of engaging in criminal conduct while on supervision, provides the government with no confidence that the safety of the community can be protected without detention.

Prosecutors further argued “there is clear and convincing evidence of the danger the defendant poses to create other victims in the community.” In addition, the defendant’s regular foreign travel, his access to a bank account in Samoa, his use of aliases and fake documents, and his efforts to avoid detection in this case establish by a preponderance of the evidence that he is a flight risk.