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Friday, December 17, 2010

Former Grant Administrator and Legal Assistant of American Samoa Non-profit Corporation Indicted for Alleged Mail and Wire Fraud Scheme

WASHINGTON - A grant administrator and her daughter have been charged with participating in a scheme resulting in the theft of approximately $150,000 in federal grant funds awarded to a non-profit corporation in the Territory of American Samoa, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division.

The 20-count indictment, returned late yesterday by a federal grand jury in the Northern District of California, charges Julie Matau, 48, and her daughter, Andrea Matau, 27, of San Francisco, Calif., each with one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, theft of federal grant funds, false statements and falsification of records in a federal investigation; 17 counts of mail and wire fraud; and one count of theft of federal grant funds. Julie Matau is charged separately with one count of falsification of records in a federal investigation.

According to the indictment, U’una’i Legal Services Corporation (ULSC) was a non-profit corporation operating in the Territory of American Samoa from approximately 1998 to 2007. During this time period, ULSC was the only non-profit organization in American Samoa that provided free legal services to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking and sexual abuse. It was also the only provider of legal representation for low income U.S. citizens and legal residents in other civil matters including adoptions, divorces and custody issues. From 2004 to 2007, ULSC relied on various sources of federal grant funding, including funding from the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) and the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Violence Against Women (OVW).

The indictment alleges that Julie Matau and ULSC’s former acting executive director, David Wagner, submitted grant applications and status reports to obtain federal grant funds from LSC and OVW, and that they diverted approximately $150,000 to themselves and others, including Andrea Matau. The indictment also alleges that Julie Matau, assisted by another person working at her direction, created false time sheets and other documents for employees, including for herself, David Wagner and Andrea Matau, which purported to justify the diversion of funds as "comp time payments."

On March 11, 2010, David Wagner pleaded guilty to stealing $31,292 from the federally-funded organization and is awaiting sentencing. In his guilty plea, Wagner admitted to receiving "salary advances" and other payments to which he was not lawfully entitled, and signing blank checks for Julie Matau.

The conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. The mail and wire fraud counts each carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, while the charge of federal grand fund theft carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Julie Matau faces an additional maximum penalty of 20 years in prison if convicted on the falsification of records charge. Each charged count also carries maximum fines of up to $250,000 or twice the gross gain.

An indictment is merely a charge and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Trial Attorney Mary K. Butler and Trial Attorney Edward J. Loya Jr. of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section. The case is being investigated by special agents of the Legal Services Corporation Office of Inspector General; the Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General; and the FBI.

Press Release Number: 
Updated September 15, 2014