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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended August 06, 2000
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Sent on Mormon-News: 15Aug00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Former BYU Football Player on Trial in Texas for Theft of $200,000

EL PASO, TEXAS -- Mekeli T. Ieremia, former BYU football player, youth camp director and school administrator is now on trial for theft of more than $200,000 and misappropriation of fiduciary property in the latest of Ieremia's brushes with the law and questionable schemes. Both of the charges are first-degree felonies that carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Ieremia is charged in connection with his responsibilities as director of risk management for the Socorro Independent School District. The job is responsible for maintaining the district's insurance policies and limiting potential losses from uncontrollable events. But when the district's books wouldn't balance in 1998, the district called in an auditor to find a $2 million discrepancy, which led to Ieremia.

"We think the evidence is going to show in this case that Mr. Ieremia violated all the trust and responsibility that was placed on him," said prosecutor Kyle Lasley. Prosecutors claim that Ieremia was funnelling money from the workers compensation fund to four companies owned by the same individual.

Ieremia is also the defendant in two lawsuits over youth camps that he founded and run in Samoa and in Hawaii. Parents of youths in the camps claim that Ieremia didn't provide the services he claimed and that the youths were not properly cared for, and in the case of Samoa were abandoned by the camp.

The New Hope Academy in Samoa came to the attention of US government officials when five youths were recovered there, allegedly abandoned by the camp. The Aloha Youth Academy in Laie, Hawaii, the other camp Ieremia owned, was never licensed by the state of Hawaii, and was criticized by former employees who claimed the youths there were improperly cared for.

Both camps were marketed to Utahn and LDS parents, using Ieremia's reputation as a BYU football player.

Officer of controversial youth camps on trial for stealing from Texas schools
Honolulu HI Star-Bulletin 3Aug00 D2
From staff and wire reports


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