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Court Report

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UMU TE’O

A man who has appeared before the court for the fourth time, the latest incident involving a handgun, was sentenced to 20 months in jail. Sentencing was handed down by Chief Justice Michael Kruse who was accompanied on the bench by Chief Associate Judge Logoai Siaki.

Umu Te’o, initially faced two charges of unlawful use of a weapon, three counts of third-degree assault and unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition, however he pleaded guilty to unlawful use of a weapon and possession of an unlicensed firearm.

“Forgive me for I have sinned and I am truly remorseful for what occurred,” pled Te’o in his apology to the court, his wife and children and the victims in this matter.

The defendant said every time he makes a mistake, it appears it only occurs when he’s intoxicated. “Please forgive me and I promise to the court that I will not drink alcohol anymore until the day I die”. The defendant told the court that as a parent, he knows what it’s like when something like what he did, happens to his children.

Assistant Public Defender Leslie Cardin acknowledged the defendant's history with the court system, but told the court the defendant has learned his lesson and is willing to undergo a program that can help with his drinking problem.

Cardin presented character references from the defendant's employer, Fletcher Construction, and from the defendant’s Bishop.

ASG's Assistant Attorney General Cable Poag argued that the defendant should be incarcerated and has a long history of violence, having been convicted of deviate sexual assault, driving under the influence, public peace disturbance and finally this case involving a handgun.

Kruse sentenced Te'o to five years in jail for unlawful use of a weapon and one year for possession of an unlicensed firearm to be served concurrently.

Sentence was then suspended and the defendant was placed on probation for five years, under the conditions that he serve 20 months in jail, be a law abiding citizen, not to possess any firearm, apologize to the two victims in the presence of a probation officer, not consume any alcohol or illegal drugs unless prescribed by a licensed physician, attend and successfully complete anger management and counseling, and visit his probation officer regularly.

The defendant may be released on work release if he’s still employed by Fletcher Construction, from 6am to 6pm. The government’s case claims the defendant put a gun into the mouth of a teenager’s mouth. According to court documents, the young boys were at a bus stop when the incident occurred.

TWO DEFENDANTS RELEASED TO PROBATION SUPERVISION

The High Court approved a motion filed, by the Chief Probation Officer Silivelio Iosefo, to release Leanava Seevaetasi and Tupolo Hodges to his office’s supervision, when Chief Justice Michael Kruse, released the two men on Thursday.

Iosefo believes the defendants are better off under the supervision of the probation office, given the state of the Territorial Correctional Facility. In a recent probation review for the defendants, Iosefo told the court, he recently conducted several drug testings on certain inmates in the TCF and was surprised to find out that the majority of those inmates tested came out positive, with either marijuana or methamphetamine.

He also told the court there are currently no counseling and drug rehabilitation programs for anger management or drug and alcohol abuse available in the TCF.  He noted that another reason he was seeking the release of the defendants, was that during his visit, it was revealed that homemade brew, was made inside the TCF.

Iosefo pleaded with the court to release the defendants to the Probation Office's supervision where they will be able to get the rehabilitation and hopefully they will become law abiding citizens and productive members of society. He also touched on the overcrowding at the TCF, and the inability of making the TCF a place where the citizens and residents who have wandered on to the wrong side of the law, can be rehabilitated.

The Chief Probation Officer assured the court he would assist the defendants in attaining employment to help their families.

Leanava Sevaaetasi is jailed on a conviction of second-degree burglary and property damage, in connection with the break-in and theft, at a store in Tula and is currently serving 28 months in jail, as part of his 7 years probation. Hodges is in jail after voluntarily pleading guilty plea to unlawful possession of controlled substance namely methamphetamine with the intent to distribute. Hodges was jailed for 40 months as a condition of his ten years probation.

FA’AFEAI ATIMALALA

A 48 year old man, whose residence was raided by the Vice and Narcotics Division last week, will be arraigned in the High Court Tuesday morning. Fa’afeai Atimalala who is charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance and unlawful possession with intent to distribute, waived his rights to a preliminary examination with the District Court yesterday morning. The defendant is held on $50,000 bail and is represented by Assistant Public Defender Donna Clement.

According to the government’s case, police uncovered live marijuana plants planted around the defendant’s home in Nu’uuli. Police executed a search warrant on the suspect’s residence and came across 4 marijuana plants growing inside a plastic bowl and 10 marijuana plants, surrounding the home. The marijuana plants, up to 3ft tall, were confiscated by police as evidence, who said it has a street value of $5,000.  All the plants were tested positive for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main active ingredient of cannabis. Police also confiscated two glass pipes, six marijuana joints and loose dried marijuana leaves. The defendant was arrested in 1989 under similar circumstances.



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