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Iakimo Felise, who was accused by the government of molesting a 10-year old victim in April this year, was sentenced Thursday, by the High Court, to 20 months imprisonment as a condition of his five-year probation.

Other conditions imposed by the court as part of probation are that Felise register as a sex offender, take the HIV test, attend and successfully complete alcohol counseling and not make any direct or indirect contact with the victim, who told police the defendant grabbed her and pulled her under the steps of the guest house and carried out the sex crime.

Felise stopped the illegal act and fled the scene when another man called out to the defendant, according to court documents.

Felise, who remains in custody unable to post the $50,000 bail, was initially charged with one count each of child molestation and deviate sexual assault. But, under a plea agreement with the government one of the charges was amended to sodomy, to which Felise entered a guilty plea.

Associate Justice Lyle L. Richmond told Felise the jail term imposed by the court is much lighter compared to the crime he committed against the very young victim, who will never forget this terrible incident.

Before being sentenced Felise apologized to the court and also to the girl's family for his crime, asking them for forgiveness.

To his family, Felise asked for forgiveness adding that the crime he committed has tarnished the family's good name. He promised not to consume alcohol or violate any other law and will abide by any decision of the court.

Assistant Attorney General Mitzie Jessop Folau recommended that the defendant depart the territory after serving the required jail term. However, she said the government remains unclear on the defendant's immigration status.

Richmond said the court will not go into the immigration issue right now until the government is clear on what the defendant's immigration status is. He said the court can revisit and amend conditions of his probation to include departure if the government verifies his birthplace.

MIKAELE AULAUMEA

The High Court has set sentencing for Mikaele Aulaumea, for Dec. 21, after he reached a plea agreement with the government for breaking into a store and taking off with merchandise.

During Thursday's plea hearing, Aulaumea admitted that he damaged the front portion of the Christopher store in Leone to make his way inside and stole merchandise including clothing and beer with a total cost of more than $100.

He also admitted to being involved in the break-in at Pritchard Bakery where he stood guard in front of the bakery while his friends were inside stealing goods. When questioned by the court, Aulaumea said he does not know for sure if his friends stole any merchandise but he suspects they did.

According to the government, the goods stolen from the bakery were found in Christopher's store.

Aulaumea was scheduled to go on trial on Nov. 29 for two counts of stealing and burglary but under a plea agreement with the government, the defendant pled guilty to one count of stealing with the other charges dismissed.

Aulaumea, who remains in custody unable to post bail, told the court that he could not clearly recall what happened on the night of Mar. 28 when the break-ins occurred because he was very drunk.

The government would not make any sentencing recommendations in the plea agreement until they receive a pre sentence report from the Probation Office.

KILISITINA SEIGAFO

Kilisitina Seigafo, who was supposed to go on trial earlier this week for stealing $260 from the wallet of a caucasian man, was released Wednesday from the Territorial Correctional Facility after an agreement was reached with the government.

Part of the agreement calls for Seigafo to repay the money and government will move to dismiss the stealing charge against the defendant.

During a hearing this week Seigafo's attorney Public Defender Ruth Risch-Fuatagavi informed the court that her client was supposed to go on trial Nov. 14 but with the plea agreement, a trial is no longer necessary.

Risch-Fuatagavi then asked the court for Seigafo's release on her own recognizance so that she can find employment to fulfill her obligations to repay the money back. A statement confirmed by Assistant Attorney General Cecilia Reyna who noted that the plea agreement is already signed.

The court granted the defense's motion and scheduled a status hearing next month for an update on the case.

Seigafo was initially charged with stealing and the government claimed in court documents that the defendant took the wallet belonging to a man she met at the hospital and the man gave her a ride to Maliu Mai Resort.

The government says the defendant used a bank card inside the man's wallet to withdraw money from the ATM without the victim's permission.

Samoa News reporters Ausage Fausia and Fili Sagapolutele contributed to this report.



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