Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Obstruction of justice, perjury, and false statements prove particularly easy charges for the government when the conduct would require extensive investigation prior to indictment. I often call them the government "short-cut" offenses. So it is no surprise to see the government using them extensively.
A press release of the DOJ reports that:
"Iona Uiagalelei, former Assistant Chief of the Department of Property Management for the American Samoan government, was sentenced Monday, Jan. 7, 2008, in federal court in Hawaii for obstructing a federal sex trafficking investigation. In August 2007, Uiagalelei pleaded guilty to witness tampering for instructing two Chinese women to provide false and misleading information to a federal grand jury, the federal prosecutor, and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents.
Uiagalelei was a business partner with Chinese national Fu Sheng Kuo, who, along with several co-defendants, operated a scheme to recruit and import Chinese women and hold them in prostitution in nightclubs and brothels in American Samoa. Upon arrival, the victims, who were unpaid, were denied access to their passports and return airline tickets, and the opportunity to leave until they had paid off increasing debts. Uiagalelei sponsored numerous Chinese nationals to enter and reside in American Samoa who then engaged in Kuo’s prostitution business.
Uiagalelei was sentenced to 13 months imprisonment and three years of supervised leave. Uiagalelei reports to federal prison Monday, Jan. 14, 2008. Four other defendants in this case have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced."
What might normally not be considered a white collar offense can become one when you use charges such as obstruction and witness tampering. The question becomes where these cases fall with respect to government statistics.