A Samoan couple in, Salt Lake City, Utah have been charged in U.S. District Court for their alleged role in defrauding one set of victims out of USD $1.25 million, along with a related scheme to defraud a vulnerable adult in the amount of USD $2.4 million dollars.

Part of the scheme is in relation to a foundation dedicated to assist individuals in and from Samoa.

Talanei reported that an indictment issued by a federal grand jury, against Misiona Patane, 57 and Lavinia Patane, 54, are charged with two counts of bank fraud and three counts of money laundering.In addition, Misiona Patane is separately charged with four counts of wire fraud, six counts of aggravated identity theft, and one count of kidnapping.

The kidnapping charge is based upon Misiona’s alleged role in keeping a vulnerable adult in Samoa for more than a year under false pretenious to obtain more funds from a trust meant for the benefit and care of the adult.

The allegations contained in the indictment state that, in 2011, Misiona Patane became the director of a foundation started by a former professional athlete, known as “P.S.”

It is alleged that, later in 2011, Misiona Patane’s wife, Lavinia Patane, became an officer of the foundation. Over the course of several years, Lavinia Patane wrote numerous checks, made deposits, and made cash withdrawals from the foundation without the knowledge of or permission from P.S.

In carrying out the second scheme, the indictment alleges that the Patanes stole over $2.4 million dollars from a court-monitored trust which existed for the benefit of a 26-year-old victim known as “J.F.”, who suffers from a permanent traumatic brain injury which occurred in an automobile accident when J.F. was 20 months old.

It is alleged that two family members were appointed as co-guardians to manage the financial and daily affairs of “J.F.” and that the co-guardians could authorise expenditures of funds from the J.F. Trust.

It is alleged that from 2016 to 2018, the Patanes stole $2.4 million from the J.F. Trust, under the guise of helping to provide services and pay for expenses related to J.F.’s care; the Patanes used these stolen funds for their own personal expenses.

It is further alleged that Misiona Patane devised a plan to have J.F. participate in a residential program in Samoa, and that Misiona, acting as himself and pretending to be third parties, sent numerous emails and fraudulent documents to J.F.’s guardians and financial advisor to fraudulently obtain money from J.F.’s trust.

There were other claims that Misiona Patane, for the purpose of fraudulently obtaining more money from the trust, falsely stated that “J.F.” was required to stay in Samoa pursuant to a court order and that J.F. would be subject to arrest or imprisonment should J.F. attempt to leave Samoa and travel to the U.S.