Federal prosecutors at the United States District Court in St. Paul, MN have dropped extortion charges against 40-year-old Navy Lieutenant commander (LCDR) David Rosetter on Thursday, May 5, 2011 in a scheme which bilked his parents out of $185,000, according to reports by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, West Central Tribune, Winona Daily News, Associated Press, The Stars and Stripes, Military Corruption, True Crime Reports web site, Samoan News Online, Samoa Observer, and other media sources published on Friday, May 6, 2011.
The naval officer had been fired from his job as officer-in-charge of the Military Sealift Command (MSC) office at Pearl Harbor, HI in November 2009. Mr. Rosetter had obtained the rank of O-4, equivalent in pay grade to GS-12, and was earning $78,355 per year, plus locality adjustments.
Last year, while awaiting trial, he was passed over for promotion to Commander and was assigned to administrative duties in Hawaii pending the outcome of the court case. He had served a total of 18 years in the United States Navy, after participating in the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) program while attending college.
The object of an elaborate deception, which the press has described as a script for a Hollywood thriller, was Richard Donald Rosetter, aged 74, and his wife, 75-year-old Joan E. Rosetter, corn farmers from Granite Falls, MN.
The plot, was allegedly hatched in San Diego in 2005 while the parents were visiting their son who was stationed at the Military Sealift Command Pacific, or MSCPAC, on Naval Base Point Loma (NBPL).
It involved the officer’s Samoan wife Lumatafiafia, simply known as “Fia”, and her sister Vatauomalo Dorthea Tafaoa, called “Tau” in a convoluted tale that began with an alleged work related injury at Wal-Mart, but escalated to include the “Samoan Mafia”, a Mexican hit squad known as the “Dreaded Burrito Gang”, that were hired by Wal-Mart employees, and escalated to include threats of murder and violence against the two women, Commander Rosetter, and eventually his elderly parents.
At one point, Commander Rosetter was said to have telephoned his sister Luann in Rapid City, South Dakota claiming that he was in immediate danger of “swimming with the fishes”, the subject of a contract put out on his life by Wal-Mart.
The parents were said to be so frightened that they sold their car and RV for other vehicles and even tried to change their appearances.
It was all a hoax, probably obvious and laughable to an outsider, but before the parents became suspicious, they wired large sums of money to their son. Eventually, they contacted the police, and the FBI became involved in the case.
Prior to the dismissal, Commander Rosetter, who had been charged in a 9-count indictment with aiding and abetting extortion and making a false threat, denied that he was ever involved in any way, and pleaded not guilty.
His attorney, Douglas Olson, claimed that the reason the case was dropped against his client, was that there was no evidence to support any criminal conduct. Mr. Olson insisted that his client is innocent, saying that Rosetter was in Iraq, and emails were made to look like he sent them.
“We have always maintained that David was innocent and we were prepared to try the case,” said Olson, a member of the Federal Defender office.
The U.S. Attorney in St. Paul would not comment on why they dropped charges against Rosetter.
However, the federal government, which has over 1,400 pages of discovery evidence, is still moving forward with criminal charges against Laumatafiafia “Fia” Rosetter, his Samoan-born wife, who is scheduled to stand trial later this month, before U.S. District Judge Joan N. Ericksen. His sister-in-law Vatauomalao “Tau” Tafaoa pleaded guilty last week for her role in the scheme.
All this proves an old adage that works of fiction have to be credible, while the truth does not have to meet that test.
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