Jana Olsen, 47, who resides in California, appeared in the High Court yesterday charged with presenting Customs officers with a false departure declaration. She was discharged without conviction and ordered to pay $30 court costs.
On July attempting to leave the Cook Islands from Rarotonga International Airport, Olsen declared that she was not carrying $NZ10,000 or more. When given another opportunity to declare money in her possession and asked to sign an additional form, she again denied carrying such amounts.
However, when Customs officers searched her bags, they found $US17,805 cash, $US$114,000 worth of cheques and other amounts of cash in various foreign currencies.
Olsen told Customs officers that someone else had packed her bags, or that the currency was implanted, and that someone had got rid of her medication, which caused her be unable to concentrate.
She later pleaded guilty and admitted in court to running out of her medication, Adderall, which she said she relied on to function normally.
Olsen said she had not taken her medication that day, which meant she was unable distinguish fact from fiction correctly and unable fill out documents correctly.
Prosecution for Customs and Border Protection, Adam Sumbak, said they were seeking a conviction.
Sumbak said Customs believed Olsen had knowingly presented falsified documents.
However, defence lawyer Norman George told the court he was seeking a discharge without conviction for Olsen.
He asked that the matter be dealt with quickly so she could get back to her two children.
“She would prefer a clean record, be allowed to go home and come back later to apply for the restoration of goods,” he said.
George said Olsen was ‘petrified’ of a conviction and the impact it might have on her ability to do diplomatic work in the future.
He presented the court with an expired diplomatic passport as proof of Olsen’s previous status, doing diplomatic work in St Kitts, in the West Indies.
Justice Colin Doherty said the effects a conviction would have on her ability to do more diplomatic work in the future, and in any custody battles with her former husband, outweighed her guilt in the matter.