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Pearl-based officer snarled in extortion case

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Why would the federal government fly a Navy officer, his Samoan wife and her unemployed sister from Hawaii to Minnesota to appear in a small St. Paul, Minn. courtroom?

Would you believe an alleged extortion plot involving the Samoan mafia, an exotic dancer from Guam, her love child, a fearful farm family from Granite Falls, Minn., Mexican hit men purportedly hired by Walmart, and the dreaded Los Burritos gang?

That’s the reason. Really.

Lt. Cmdr. David Richard Rosetter, wife Laumatafiafia (Fia) Rosetter and her sister Vatauomalao (Tau) Tafaoa face charges in an alleged extortion plot that cost David Rosetter’s parents and sister $185,000.

David Richard Rosetter:
The ex-Pearl Harbor
Sealift Command officer,
his wife and her sister are
accused of duping his fam-
ily out of $185,000 with a
tale that they were being
stalked by hired killers.

According to FBI affidavits, David Rosetter’s parents and sister lived on the run for nearly a year, terrified they were in imminent danger. But, the FBI says, the sordid tale was made up.

David and Fia Rosetter and Tafaoa were indicted in April, but details of their case became public only this week. They have pleaded not guilty. A trial date has not yet been set.

While the affidavits finger Fia Rosetter and Taufaoa as the masterminds of the plot, a federal grand jury also blamed David Rosetter, a 17-year naval veteran who led the Military Sealift Command Office at Pearl Harbor until the Navy reassigned him to administrative duties because of the case.

All three are charged with nine counts of extortion — allegedly carried out from January through June 2007. According to FBI affidavits and testimony Tuesday, the deceit began years earlier.

In January 2005 Richard and Joan Rosetter, a farm couple from Granite Falls, Minn., visited San Diego, where their son was stationed with his wife. While there they met Taufaoa, who was living with David and Fia Rosetter.

During that time the parents were told employees of Walmart were watching the family. Why? Because Walmart didn’t want to pay a workers’ compensation claim to Taufaoa, a former Walmart employee who had broken her foot on the job.

In September 2005 Luann Rosetter received a telephone call from her brother. David told her that Walmart employees wanted to kill him for helping Taufaoa take Walmart to court over her workers’ compensation claim. Taufaoa would be on disability for the rest of her life, he said, and Walmart would rather kill her than pay the claim.

Luann was also in danger and should "watch her back," her brother warned.

Two months later, in November 2005, David and Fia visited Luann’s home in Rapid City, S.D. According to the FBI, they convinced her that hit men from Los Burritos, or the Dreaded Burrito Gang, had been hired to kill the entire family. Thankfully, because Fia Rosetter and Taufaoa were American Samoans, the Samoan mafia — headed by a boss named "Uncle Mo" — was secretly following the family to protect them.

David and Fia Rosetter then called David’s parents in Granite Falls and urged them to join them immediately in Rapid City. They only had 20 minutes to leave or they would be killed, David and Fia allegedly told them.

When Joan and Richard Rosetter arrived in Rapid City, David and Fia told them Uncle Mo said they’d barely escaped with their and the Samoan mafia had killed two of the Burritos.

For the next year, Luann Rosetter and her parents lived in fear. David and Fia Rosetter and Taufaoa told Luann to quit her job, change her name, leave Rapid City, buy a new car — even get rid of her dog. They told Richard and Joan Rosetter to replace their car and motor home and change their appearance.

FBI Special Agent Michael Dudley testified this week that in January 2006, Luann Rosetter sold her home and belongings for pennies on the dollar and moved in with her parents. She hid under blankets in the car when her parents drove her on or off their property.

Then, in January 2007, David Rosetter had a new emergency and needed money. According to affidavits, he told them he’d made a "big mistake" and now the Samoan mafia was threatening to kill him and his parents.

In e-mails and phone calls from Taufaoa and Fia and David Rosetter, the family learned that David had had an affair with a stripper from Guam and, "as a result, had a child out of wedlock," according to affidavits. Not only that, but David had left Fia to be with the dancer and had run up a lot of credit card debt. This embarrassed the Samoan mafia, Taufaoa told David’s parents. If David did not repay the debt and follow Uncle Mo’s instructions, David and his parents would be "swimming with the fishes."

Other e-mails — purportedly from Fia, David and Uncle Mo — asked for money to be wired or David and his parents would be killed. From January through June 2007, the family wired $185,000. In June 2007 Luann and her parents went to the authorities.

In August 2007 an FBI investigation revealed that all the e-mails, including those from Uncle Mo, came from Internet addresses belonging to Fia and David Rosetter and Taufaoa.

Confronted with e-mail and recordings of phone calls, the trio eventually admitted the scheme, Dudley testified. Fia Rosetter said they did it "because they needed money," Dudley said.

 

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