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Acting CJ to deliver Laauli ruling in June

The Acting Chief Justice, Vui Clarence Nelson, is scheduled to deliver a ruling in a criminal case next month against former Cabinet Minister Laaulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao Schmidt and four co-defendants.

Laaulialemalietoa (Laauli), his wife, Heather Tupea Schmidt, and business associates Apulu Lance Polu, Martin Schwalger and Tuitui Aiolupo, appeared before Supreme Court Justice Leiataualesa Daryl M. Clarke on Monday morning for a bail hearing.

"This matter has been called today to continue the bail and schedule the delivery of the decision by His Honour Acting Chief Justice Nelson. The Acting Chief Justice Nelson will be delivering the decision on the 15th of June at 12 p.m.," said Justice Leaiataualesa.

"Defendants, this matter has been called today so that you can continue bail and for the scheduling of the delivery of the decision in your matter. This matter will be adjourned to the fifteenth of June, 2020 at 12 p.m. before the Acting Chief Justice Nelson will do the delivery of his decision."

The former Cabinet Minister and his co-defendants pleaded not guilty to 233 criminal charges at a trial held in mid-2019. 

La’auli was charged with one count of forgery; 40 charges of theft; 16 for obtaining by deception; 16 counts of causing loss by deception and 88 charges of theft by a person in a special relationship.  

His wife Heather was charged with one count of theft; three charges of causing loss by deception; and three charges of theft by relationship. 

Apulu was charged with 51 criminal charges: one count of using a forged document; one charge of forgery; one charge of theft; 16 charges of obtaining by deception; 16 counts of causing loss by deception and an additional 16 counts of theft by relationship. 

Tuitui was facing seven charges of causing loss by deception and six criminal counts of theft by a person in a special relationship, while Martin Schwalger was charged with one count of forgery. 

The criminal charges stem from an ongoing dispute over Local Partners and Associates, a nonu company, between the accused and a senior Member of Parliament and Associate Minister of the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Peseta Vaifou Tevaga. 

Acting Chief Justice Vui is scheduled to deliver the ruling at 12 pm on 15 June.

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