Lehi couple charged with defrauding millions from vulnerable adult

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LEHI, Utah (ABC4) – A Lehi couple is being charged in schemes to defraud millions from victims including a vulnerable adult.

The U.S. District Court of Utah has charged 57-year-old both Misiona Patane and 54-year-old Lavinia Patane with two counts of bank fraud and three counts of money laundering and Misiona is being separately charged with four counts of wire fraud, six counts of aggravated identity theft, and one count of kidnapping.

Officials said Misiona kept a vulnerable adult in Samoa for over a year under false pretenses in order to obtain funds from a trust.

Court documents said in 2011, Misiona became the director of a foundation started by a former professional athlete. Misiona’s wife, Lavinia was appointed as a foundation officer.

Authorities say over several years, the couple stole over $1.25 million dollars for their personal use by writing checks, making deposits and withdrawing cash from the foundation illegally.

In a second scheme, officials say from 2016 to 2018, the couple siphoned over $2.4 million from a trust belonging to a vulnerable adult. The court-monitored trust belonged to a 26-year-old who has a permanent traumatic brain injury sustained in a car accident when he was only 20 months old.

Officials say the funds were meant to be used for the victim’s care, but the couple stole the money for their personal use instead. Court documents say the couple maintained their scheme by sending fraudulent emails and documents to the victim’s guardians and financial advisor.

Misiona is currently being held in custody pending trial results. Authorities say some allegations happened while the suspect was on probation for a previous federal fraud conviction.

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