|For Immediate Release
Case # 13CF2428 August 1, 2013
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
TREASURER SCHEDULED TO BE ARRAIGNED FOR EMBEZZLING OVER $110,000 FROM CHURCH BANK ACCOUNTS
*Defendant is accused of laundering money through an Indian gaming casino
SANTA ANA – A treasurer is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow for embezzling over $110,000 from church bank accounts. Fiatala Manu, 46, Lake Elsinore, 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. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 11 years and four months in state prison. He is being held on $100,000 bail and is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow, Friday, Aug. 2, 2013, at 10:00 a.m. in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.
Between October 2011 and August 2012, Manu is accused of being a member of the First Samoan Christian Congregational Church in Santa Ana and serving as an interim treasurer. The defendant is accused of being responsible for handling the church’s financial accounts which included paying the bills.
Manu 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. The defendant is accused of embezzling $96,000 solely from a deposit account set aside to build a new church. Manu is also accused of laundering the embezzled funds deposited into his personal bank account through cash withdrawal transactions and purchases made at an Indian gaming casino.
The defendant is accused of attending monthly church meetings and reporting false financial reports, which included reporting false balances and funds in the church bank accounts.
In July 2012, an assistant treasurer was assigned to monitor various church accounts and learned that the account for the church building fund was closed in April 2012 with a zero balance. The discrepancy in funds was reported to the Santa Ana Police Department, who investigated this case and arrested the defendant on July 29, 2013.
Deputy District Attorney Chuck Lawhorn of the White Collar Crime Team is prosecuting this case.