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Former Honolulu air cargo workers plead guilty in mail theft case

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 09:00 a.m. HST, Jul 02, 2011


PAGO PAGO, American Samoa >> Former workers of an air cargo company accused of stealing parcels being mailed to American Samoa have pleaded guilty.

Stanford Salavea, Maunaloa Aitaoto, Jonathan Taboniar and Louis Felesi pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court in Honolulu to one count of conspiracy to steal mail. They have been free on $25,000 bond.

They were ramp employees of Pacific Air Cargo at the Honolulu International Airport, where they used their airport access to open packages being mailed to American Samoa through the U.S. Postal Service between December and April, prosecutors said. They then hid the stolen items in a work van.

Pacific Air Cargo operates a weekly cargo flight between Honolulu and Pago Pago. 

They stole between $10,000 to $30,000 worth of property, including cameras and computers, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Sorenson. "Federal authorities will investigate and aggressively pursue those who threaten the integrity of the U.S. mail system by stealing mail and parcels," he said.  

A few of the stolen items have been recovered and some owners who submitted claims with the postal service have been compensated, Sorenson said.

People who claim to have sent packages to the U.S. territory continue to complain about packages sent in December that have yet to arrive.

The men face a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine. Salavea, Aitaoto and Taboniar are scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 7, while sentencing for Felesi is scheduled for Nov. 14.

Sorenson said the court will consider factors such as their roles in the offense and acceptance of responsibility in determining actual sentences.

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