‘Big Chief’ Of Samoan CUHeaded Home After Prison

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WASHINGTON - (07/08/05) – A federal judge ruled Thursdaythat Bernard Gurr, the self-proclaimed ‘MisikeaFa’Alaveleve,’ or American Samoan ‘BigChief,’ who headed American Samoa Government Employees FCU,must serve out the remaining year or so on his 70-month prison termfor fraud and conspiracy related to the failure of the tiny Pacificisland’s only credit union more than a decade ago. But Gurr,who has been jailed at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada since hisApril 2003 conviction on 19 criminal charges, may return to hisremote island home to serve out the three years of supervisedrelease after leaving prison, rather than serve it in Hawaii, 2,000miles away from home. The court originally sentenced Gurr tosupervised release in Hawaii because it is the closest jurisdictionfor the U.S. judicial system, which has no supervision in AmericanSamoa. Gurr, who has served 51 of his 70-month sentence, hadrequested early release based on December’s Supreme Courtruling striking down mandatory sentencing guidelines. But NCUA,which reported a $4.6 million loss from the 1993 failure of the $8million credit union, argued against early release, stressing thata stiff sentence was needed to help deter other financial misdeedsin credit unions. The court also upheld a $65,000 restitution orderagainst Gurr.

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