Anchorage Woman Arraigned on Identity Theft, Passport, PFD and Benefits Fraud
Anchorage, Alaska - U.S. Attorney Karen L. Loeffler announced today that Maualuga Leaana, 43, of Anchorage was arraigned on federal charges that she committed identity theft and falsely claimed U.S. citizenship to obtain various federal and state benefits. The Indictment, which was returned by the federal grand jury in April, charges Leaana with one count of passport fraud, nine counts of making false claims of U.S. citizenship, and one count of aggravated identity theft. The Indictment alleges that Leaana is a citizen of Samoa, formerly known as Western Samoa. Citizens of Samoa are not U.S. citizens, in comparison to those born in American Samoa, who do hold U.S. nationality by birth.
Leaana is charged with applying for and obtaining a U.S. passport in the name of her sister. She is also charged with falsely claiming U.S. citizenship on various applications for benefits, including Alaska Permanent Fund Dividends, unemployment compensation, and subsidized housing, as well as obtaining identification from the Alaska Division of Motor Vehicles. The Indictment alleges that she obtained over $14,000 in PFDs between 2003 and 2013, and that she also unlawfully obtained over $17,000 in unemployment benefits. The defendant faces a maximum prison term of ten years for passport fraud, with an additional two years consecutive for identity theft. Each of the false claims of citizenship charges carries a maximum term of five years of imprisonment. Each of the 12 counts carries a maximum fine of $250,000. Restitution to the State of Alaska can be ordered by the court in addition to any fines or other penalties.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service; the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General, Office of Investigations; the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the Alaska Department of Revenue, Criminal Investigations Unit, and the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development.