Thursday, August 1, 2013

Lake Elsinore Man Accused Of Embezzling More Than $100K From His Church in California

Fiatala Manu, 46, is charged with multiple felonies after being accused of embezzling from the First Samoan Christian Congregational Church in Santa Ana where he served as interim treasurer.
A Lake Elsinore man is scheduled to be arraigned Friday for embezzling over $110,000 from church bank accounts, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office is reporting.

Fiatala Manu, 46, is charged with four felony counts of money laundering, seven felony counts of falsifying records, one felony count of embezzlement by fiduciary of trust, one felony count of grand theft with sentencing enhancements for committing an aggravated white collar crime over $100,000, and property damage over $65,000, according to a statement released today by the DA’s office.
If convicted, Manu faces a maximum sentence of 11 years and four months in state prison, the statement reads.

He is being held on $100,000 bail.

Between October 2011 and August 2012, Manu was a member of the First Samoan Christian Congregational Church in Santa Ana and was serving as an interim treasurer, the statement continued.

Phone calls to several numbers listed for the church all turned out to be disconnected at press time.

Manu was allegedly responsible for handling the church’s financial accounts, which included paying the bills.

He is accused of embezzling approximately $113,000 from the church by making unauthorized cash withdrawals, writing checks payable to himself, and transferring funds from the church bank accounts into his personal bank account.

He also allegedly embezzled $96,000 from a deposit account set aside to build a new church, and he is accused of laundering the ill-gotten funds through an Indian gaming casino.

According to the statement, Manu attended monthly church meetings and reported false financial reports. But in July 2012, an assistant treasurer was assigned to monitor various church accounts and learned the account for church construction was closed in April 2012 with a zero balance. The missing money was reported to the Santa Ana Police Department, and after investigation Manu was arrested July 29, 2013, according to today’s statement.

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