The High Court of American Samoa has denied a request by a convicted former cabinet official for work release from the Tafuna Correctional Facility.
The former Chief Procurement Officer, Faau Seumanutafa, began serving a two-year jail term in January for stealing.
He asked the court to be put on the work release programme six days a week so he could perform work for his Congregational Christian Church of Jesus where he is a deacon and earn money to pay restitution to the government.
It ruled that the defendant deserved penal consequences for his corrupt behaviour as a public official.
The judges said they refuse to send the message that public officials can atone for their theft from the public coffers by simply performing routine church duties.
They stressed that public corruption is a serious crime that undermines the public's trust in government and an offense with such weighty consequences requires substantial punishment.