Federal offenders monitored in the territory, more coming
Federal Probation Officer Fituina F. Tua left island Thursday evening after completing a visit to monitor two federal offenders serving out their probation in the territory and also to maintain the collateral contacts with local government agencies that have assisted the United States Federal Probation Office in Hawai’i for some time now.
Agencies such as the local Federal Bureau of Investigation, Parole Officer Divine Falaniko, Deputy Commissioner Leiseau Laumoli, Deputy Director of Homeland Security Jacinta Brown and especially Chief Probation officer Silivelio Iosefa and local probation officers assist the federal government with the monitoring process of federal offenders in the territory.
Officer Tua explained that American Samoa is a US territory of the Unites States close in proximity to the US District of Hawai’i that has jurisdiction over American Samoa. He explained anyone charged with a federal crime would be held either in Hawaii or Washington DC.
Officer Tua told Samoa News there are currently only two federal offenders in the territory, Amituana’i Mika Kelemete and Mapu Siaumau, but more are coming.
Amituana’i, the former warden at the Tafuna Correctional Facility, was sentenced to 24 months imprisonment in 2008 for his role involving the physical assault of TCF inmates back in 2003.
Siaumau, a former corrections officer working at TCF was also sentenced in Federal Court in Honolulu in 2008, for his role in a separate incident involving the physical assault of TCF inmates in 2003. Siaumau received 39 months imprisonment. After their release from federal prison, both were put on federal supervised release for three years.
Officer Tua said that after a federal offender has completed sentencing in DC and is placed on probation, if he or she wants to come home which is usually the practice, they can come to Hawaii. “Because Hawaii has jurisdiction over American Samoa, they can also return home, that is after the federal probation has consulted with the local probation office and they agree on letting this federal offender return home”.
“The ideal thing is to send them back home. That is another part of their mission, to reunite the individual with their families but if there are no resources and Chief Lio [Chief Probation officer Silivelio Iosefa] cannot take them in we will have to keep them in Hawai’i”, said Officer Tua.
He said Samoan federal offenders who wish to return home must be screened first before the Federal Probation Office in Hawai’i will allow them to return home and they can deny any federal offender. “We cannot just send them home, we have to request to Chief Probation Officer Lio who makes the final decision if that particular Federal offender can return or not”.
Officer Tua mentioned other Samoans from the territory who are awaiting sentencing in the US federal courts this May, Mrs. Mine S. Pase, the former executive director of the American Samoa Special Services Commission and Paul Solofa, the former director of the school lunch program, who may also ask to come home if put on federal supervised release.
The sixty-two year old Mrs. Pase pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to steal more than $325,000 in AmeriCorps grant funds, a one-count criminal information in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
The charge of conspiracy to commit theft of federal grant funds carries a maximum prison sentence of five years and a $250,000 fine.
Paul Solofa was convicted of one count of witness tampering and one count of obstruction of justice after federal authorities investigated allegations of cash bribes and kickbacks paid by vendors to officials of the American Samoa government in connection with the government’s purchase of school bus parts and services.
Solofa faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the witness tampering charge and 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the obstruction of justice charge.
However, in the recent FBI case against the Kaisa Tai and his younger brother Lui Tai whatever the outcome and they are placed on probation they will not come to Samoa to serve their probation term. The brothers were arrested from the territory last summer and were taken to Honolulu to face drug charges at the Federal Court in Honolulu. “I’m beyond certain the Tai brothers will not be allowed to serve their probation term in the territory”, Officer Tua said.
He told Samoa News there is a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the federal probation office in Hawaii and the local probation office.
“Chief Probation Officer Lio for the longest time has provided help to the federal probation officer and these are the types of arrangements they have, Chief Lio can say at any time they can’t do it but that hasn’t been the case here”, he said.
Officer Tua has served as a Federal Probation officer for more than 20 years and is reported to be the first Samoan Federal Probation officer.
He reminds the federal probationers on island that if they violate conditions of their probation US Marshals will without hesitation come to the territory and pick up them up. He added that by the time the US Marshals are contacted, the local DPS will have executed the arrest warrant and placed the offenders in jail.