Lauofo sentence: 27 months, 3-years supervised release, pay restitution
Seattle WASHINGTON — US District Court Judge Richard A. Jones at the federal court in Seattle yesterday sentenced 40-year old Iliganoa Theresa Lauofo to 27 months in prison for wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and embezzlement of mail by a postal employee, according to federal prosecutors and court records.
“There are large families across this country who have no source of income and mouths to feed… You had no right to go out and lie and cheat and steal your way… You told a persistent and protracted series of lies,” Jones told the defendant during the sentencing hearing, conducted via “Zoom”, according to a news release by the US Justice Department.
Lauofo, who is originally from American Samoa, pled guilty to fraud and theft of federal benefits. (See Samoa News edition yesterday and Monday for details.)
Federal prosecutors recommended 36 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered her to pay the agreed restitution of $267,639.69 — the amount which she stole between April 2011 and December 2018.
The defense had recommended a 24-month imprisonment sentence.
U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran said the defendant was unrelenting in her efforts to defraud the systems “we rely on to help the neediest in our communities. She persisted even after authorities made clear they were investigating her fraud scheme.”
The defense didn’t immediately respond to a Samoa News request for comments.
Besides the jail term, Lauofo was ordered to serve three years of supervised release following prison and is obligated to pay $276,639 in restitution.
On Monday this week, the defense submitted to the court 11 family photos of the defendant, including some with one or two of her 7-children. One photo includes the defendant, her husband and their 7-children.
Last week, Lauofo wrote a letter to Judge Jones “so you can get to know who I am and things you read about my past.” She has 7 children all under age of 9 “and I have made a lot of regretful mistakes in my life. I can say that I made 7 things right. If I could go back and change things, I wouldn’t have never done what I did,” according to the letter filed together with the defense’s sentencing statement.
“Because now I’m not going to be with my kids and that part hurts the most and breaking my heart that I am not going to be here to protect them,” she wrote. “My husband is not able to take care of all them on his own.”
“At the time when I was doing these things I thought that my in-laws would love me and accept me. We were staying with them and finally got pregnant with my 1st baby. Every time I got these benefits, I would hand it over [to the in-laws] and they would …be nice to me. Until it ran out, and then back to being cruel.”
“I am deeply sorry and remorseful,” she said noting that in the process of the “stupid things” she did, she has lost much family who really care for her.
“I am more worried about my children — who loves me for me despite my flaws — when I’m not here to protect [them]. I would do anything to be with them,” she said.
“I made a big mistake and very sorry and regret everything. I was desperate and wanted like really wanted the wrong people to love and accept me. I apologize to my family member that hurt those were not my intentions. I can’t change what I did all I can ask for is forgiveness,” the letter concluded.
Another letter, submitted by the defense, came from a niece, who shared with the court Lauofo’s greatest love, “her children” and asked the judge, please do not allow them all to grow up without Iliganoa. Taking my aunt away from her kids will leave a very negative impact on their young lives, please. Reconsider sending her away.”
“While she has accepted full responsibility for her actions, her greatest fear in life is leaving her children in the hands of someone who won't love or protect her children the way a true mother does. She will go to the ends of the Earth to make sure her family has everything they need and what they need is her. Now, more than ever,” the letter states.