Chief Justice, His Honour Patu Tiava’asu’e Falefatu Sapolu, has issued warrants of arrest for two individuals found guilty of running a money-making scam in Samoa.
The warrant against Nicolas Giannos and Rosita Stanfield was issued in the Supreme Court yesterday, when they failed to appear for sentencing.
Giannos and Stanfield, who were stopped from leaving Samoa and arrested at the Faleolo International Airport last year, were found guilty of obtaining by deception with Giannos further convicted of false accounting.
The decision followed a trial held over three months.
Lawyer Leota Raymond Schuster represented the accused pair while Leone Sua-Mailo, of the Attorney General’s Office, was the prosecutor.
Giannos and Stanfield were jointly charged with Fa’atoafe Mati Silao with eight counts of obtaining by deception pursuant to s.172 of the Crimes Act 2013.
Giannos was also charged with two individual counts of false accounting pursuant to s.198 of the Act.
At the conclusion of the evidence for the prosecution, defence counsel made a submission of no case to answer on behalf of the three accused in respect of all the charges.
The Chief Justice ruled on 8 October 2015 that there was no case to answer in relation to the accused Fa'atoafe Mati Silao in respect of the eight joint counts of obtaining by deception with which he was charged.
Those counts against Fa’atoafe were therefore dismissed and he was discharged.
The Court also ruled that there was no case to answer in reference to the accused Giannos and Stanfield being jointly charged with two counts of obtaining by deception. That left six joint counts of obtaining by deception against Giannos and Stanfield and two individual counts of false accounting against Giannos alone.
In passing judgment, Chief Justice Patu said: “I find the accused Mr Giannos and Ms Stanfield both guilty of the remaining six joint charges of obtaining by deception.
“I also find the accused Mr Giannos guilty of the two individual charges of false accounting.”
Update as of 03 February 2016
Story “erroneous,” defendants appeal
Lawyer, Leota Raymond Schuster, who is representing Nicolas Gianno and Rosita Stanfield, objected to a front-page story in the Samoa Observer yesterday.
In response to the headline “Wanted by the Court” in relation to a warrant of arrest that had been issued against the pair, Leota said the story was “erroneous.”
“It is correct that a warrant was initially issued by the court after 10am when the matter was called but His Honour Chief Justice subsequently stood down the matter for 12:30pm same day,” Leota wrote to the Samoa Observer.
“It was re-called at 12:30pm and the Defendants appeared.
“The Defendants did not appear at 10am on my advice that the matter would not be called given that we had filed an appeal.”
Leota said it was wrong for the story to suggest that the defendants deliberately “failed” to comply with an order of the Court to appear.