A man was arraigned on charges he embezzled over $100,000 from several church bank accounts while serving as the treasurer. Fiatala Manu, 46, of Lake Elsinore was charged with four felony counts of money laundering, seven felony counts of falsifying records and a single count of embezzlement by fiduciary and grand theft. If convicted, Manu faces up to 11 years in state prison.
Manu served as the interim treasurer of First Samoan Christian Congregational Church in Santa Ana between October 2011 and August 2012. During that time it is alleged he made unauthorized cash withdrawals, made checks out to himself and transferred money directly from the church accounts to his accounts. In addition, Manu is accused of attending church meetings and reporting false financial documents to cover up the thefts.
It was not until July 2012 when the assistant treasurer was assigned to monitor the accounts did the church learn there were unauthorized withdrawals. The church administrators then called the Santa Ana Police Department who conducted the investigation.