Samoa’s new Minister of Justice has outstanding arrest warrant in Am. Samoa
Samoa’s newly appointed Minister of Justice, Fa’aolesa Katopau Ainu’u has an outstanding warrant in American Samoa that was issued by the Attorney General’s office back in 2008 during Fepulea’i Arthur Ripley’s tenure. Earlier this month, Ainu’u was sworn in to Samoa’s Parliament as a cabinet member and is the new Minister for the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration.
According to the arrest warrant that was signed by Associate Justice John L Ward, Ainu’u, an attorney by trade is accused of embezzlement, criminal fraud and felony stealing, on allegations that he was paid by a client for court representation however the accused failed to appear in court. The arrest warrant says that bail set for the accused is $10,000.
According to the affidavit, the accused at the time was given $5,000 from a client, however the accused did not appear in court.
Ainu’u is the Member of Parliament for Vaimauga West and is the first M.P. from the constituency to be a Cabinet Minister after a long time. This was his second time up for election, after he failed to gain the seat in 2011.
According to the arrest warrant, in the criminal charge of embezzlement, the defendant knowingly misappropriated funds which had been entrusted to him in violation of ASCA 46.4104 a class C felony which is punishable by imprisonment for up to seven years, a fine of up to double the amount gained by the crime, or both.
For the criminal fraud charge, the arrest warrant says that defendant knowingly and willfully obtained money by use of a scheme to defraud by false pretenses, defendant took payment from the victim(s) as payment to represent victim(s) in a court case, while at the time knowing that defendant was moving off island the next day and would not actually try the case — in violation of ASCA 46.4126 also a class C felony.
The arrest warrant says for the felony stealing charge, the defendant appropriated property of another in excess of $100, with the purpose to deprive him of it by means of deceit, in violation of ASCA 46.4103 — another class C felony.
Ainu’u who's from Apia, came to American Samoa and attended the American Samoa Community College following his earlier years in Samoa and Fiji. He received a scholarship from the American Samoa government to go study at the University of San Diego in California. In 1998 he worked for the Attorney General’s office for a year before he went on to study law at the University of Hawaii in Manoa. He has been practicing law in Samoa since he was admitted to the local bar in 1996 and is a member of the American Samoa Bar and the United States lawyers association.
Samoa News sent queries to the local Attorney General, asking what action the AG’s office will take, now that the arrest warrant has surfaced. However as of press time the AG has yet to respond. Samoa News notes that the accused visited the territory several years ago, however he was not arrested at that time. It’s unclear as to why the name on the arrest warrant did not appear on the immigration’s “look out list”.
Samoa News also reached out to Ainu’u, however efforts were unsuccessful as of press time.