12 Jun 2002

Two American Samoan officials charged with embezzlement of passport fees

4:44 am on 12 June 2002

Two senior employees of the Passport Division of the American Samoa Attorney General's Office have been charged with theft and embezzlement.

Ben Peni Galea'i and Ta'ase Asaeli are accused of misappropriating the fees paid for passports and certificates of identity.

An audit of the Passport Office for a six month period in 1999 showed that over 35-thousand US dollars worth of passport and ID certificates issued by the two workers did not have any cash receipts.

The government alleges the defendants collected the money and used it instead of depositing it in the government Treasury.

Meanwhile, a judge has turned down a request that the two be represented by the Public Defender, ruling that they should retain private counsels.