WASHINGTON – The former executive director of the American Samoa Special Services Commission (the Commission) was sentenced today in Washington, D.C., to 14 months in prison for conspiracy to steal more than $325,000 in AmeriCorps grant funds, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton for the District of Columbia sentenced Mine S. Pase to 14 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Judge Walton also ordered Pase to pay $325,408 in restitution.
On Nov. 18, 2011, Pase pleaded guilty to a one-count criminal information charging her with conspiracy to commit theft of federal funds.
According to court documents, between March 2001 and October 2010, Pase served as the Commission’s executive director. As an agency of the American Samoa Government, the Commission established and administered four community-based programs that provided services for American Samoans, including youth literacy programs, youth computer training, environmental conservation activities and family counseling services. The Commission and its programs relied exclusively on AmeriCorps grants from the Corporation for National and Community Service. From approximately January 2007 through October 2010, the Corporation for National and Community Service awarded the Commission and its programs a total of $9.4 million in federal grant funds.
Pase admitted that she arranged for herself, her relatives, commissioners, and Commission staff to receive a total of $325,408 in federal funds to which they were not lawfully entitled. These unlawful payments took the form of $109,532 in unlawful payments for purported business trips that Pase and others did not take; $78,889 in unlawful payments for vacation trips to Apia, Western Samoa; $89,313 in unlawful payments for meals; $19,665 in unlawful payments to Pase’s daughter under a bogus car lease agreement; and $28,009 in unlawful payments to Pase and her relatives for the use of damaged office space in which two of the Commission’s programs were housed.
According to court documents, Pase and her relatives personally received at least $123,236 of the $325,408 in stolen federal funds.
The case against Pase arose from the Corporation for National and Community Service’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) audit and investigation of the Commission. As a result of the OIG’s audit and investigation, the Commission’s federal funding was terminated and the Commission shut down.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Edward J. Loya Jr. of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section. The case is being investigated by special agents of the Corporation for National and Community Service OIG, with assistance from special agents of the FBI-Honolulu Division, American Samoa Resident Agency.