Legal Secretary jailed

By Pai Mulitalo Ale ,

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A woman who worked as a Legal Secretary for a top Law Firm in Samoa has been jailed for two years for stealing from her place of work.

Victoria Shiaolin had worked for Drake's Law Firm when she arranged to meet clients and collect money from them. 

Instead of passing the money to the Firm’s Accounts Department, she used it.

Yesterday, she was convicted of 18 charges of theft as a servant in the Supreme Court by Justice Vui Clarence Nelson. 

Lawyer Fuifui Ioane of the National Prosecution Office was the prosecutor while the 32-year-old defendant from the villages of Toamua and Lalomanu represented herself.

The Court heard that the woman was responsible for following up payments with the Firm’s clients but she was not supposed to collect money.  

Her job was to refer payments to the Accounts Department.

Instead of referring them to the right division, Shiaolin made arrangements with the debtors and met them away from the office to collect money. 

She would then make up excuses for not being able to provide receipts and would later use the money.

According to the Police summary of facts, the Legal Secretary committed the offense no less than 18 times over a period of nine months.

The total amount of money she obtained from the victims was $3,370. 

One of the debtors filed a complaint towards the end of November last year which promoted a Police investigation that uncovered the thefts.

In Court yesterday, Justice Vui reminded the accused woman that this was not the first time she had appeared in Court. In 2012, she was convicted for similar charges.

 “From experience, this offence has become very common in Samoa but sadly it’s affecting young married females,” Justice Vui said.

“Because of the seriousness of this offence, a jail term should be imposed by the Court so that the message should be sent out to those who are committing this offence that the result is Tafa'igata.”

Justice Vui added that the defendant has obviously not learnt her lesson from the first time she was convicted.

The Court took three years as recommended by the prosecution as a starting point for sentencing, to reflect the seriousness of the offence, which involved the abuse, and betrayal of trust. Her previous conviction was also noted.

In her favour, the Court was told that she has paid back some of the money, $430, and that her mother had apologised to her former employer.

In the end, the defendant was jailed for two years.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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