Utah couple charged with combined $3.6 million in fraud

SALT LAKE CITY — A married couple from Utah County have been charged in federal court for allegedly defrauding multiple victims, including one “vulnerable adult,” out of a combined $3.65 million.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Friday that 57-year-old Misiona Patane (husband) and 54-year-old Lavinia Patane (wife) were being charged with stealing money from a foundation meant to help people in and from Samoa. They’re charged with two counts of bank fraud and three counts of money laundering.

In a separate charge, Misiona is accused of defrauding $2.4 million from a court-monitored trust. He’s charged with four counts of wire fraud, six counts of aggravated identity theft and one count of kidnapping.

In the first alleged scam, the suspects are accused of stealing money over the course of several years for the foundation they both worked for. In 2011, Misiona became the director of a foundation started by a professional athlete (whose name was not released) and Lavinia was named as an officer.

Over several years, federal prosecutors say Lavinia “wrote numerous checks, made deposits, and made cash withdrawals from the foundation” without the founder’s knowledge or permission. The court records also say the couple diverted $1.25 million in tax refunds belonging to the founder and his wife, then used it for their personal use. This allegedly occurred from 2015-2017.

In the other case, Misiona is accused of “keeping a vulnerable adult in Samoa for more than a year under false…

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