24 Feb 2003

Samoan church in Hawaii loses funds to fraudster

7:45 am on 24 February 2003

A Samoan church in Hawaii is among the many victims of a woman sentenced for theft and money laundering.

The Reverend Ropati Tiatia of the First Samoan Church in Waianae said he had bee promised six million US dollars if the church paid the taxes and attorney's fees on an inheritance.

Instead Mabel Maria, also known as Sister Elena or Mama Elena, took sixty thousand dollars from the church.

The fifty one year old has been sentenced to ten years in jail on five counts of second degree theft and two counts of money laundering.

She will be sentenced on two remaining theft cases in April