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Leone burglars to spend 20 months in jail for crime spree

Judge to one defendant: “Consider your mother’s tears”
reporters@samoanews.com

The three men convicted in connection with a spate of burglaries in Leone in January 2012 were sentenced to serve more than 20 months in jail this past Thursday morning.

Associate Justice Lyle L Richmond who was accompanied on the bench by Associate Judge Mamea Sala Jr handed down sentences for the three defendants Chris Aumua, Saiosi Auva’a and Ryan Pite.

Pite is involved in two cases, the first one occurring on January 8, 2012 where Aumua is co-defendant. In the second case, January 9, Va’a was co-defendant.

CHRIS AUMUA ORDERED TO DEPART TERRITORY

Chris Aumua, charged together with co-defendant Ryan Pite, was accused of conspiring with Pite to break into Captain Mart in Leone. Aumua had been charged with first-degree burglary, property damage third degree, conspiracy to commit burglary first degree and stealing but he pleaded guilty to to conspiracy to commit burglary and stealing while the government moved to dismiss the remaining charges.

Aumua admitted that on January 8, 2012 he conspired with Pite to break into Captain Mart and acted as a lookout for Pite who unlawfully entered the store and removed merchandise valued at more than $100. Aumua yesterday apologized to the court and the government for his actions and said this type of behavior will not be repeated.

Assistant Public Defender Michael White told the court that Aumua played the least part in burglaries, as he was the “lookout guy”.

White added that Aumua is a native of Samoa with no family in the territory and wishes to return to Samoa, where he will remain outside the territory for his probation term.

Assistant Attorney General Cable Poag agreed with defense that Aumua played the least part in the burglaries and recommended Aumua be returned to Samoa for his probation term given that his immigration ID expired last year.

Richmond sentenced Aumua to seven years in jail for each count of conspiracy to commit burglary and stealing, to be served concurrently. However execution of sentencing was suspended and Aumua was placed on five-years probation under the condition that he serves 20 months in jail. The 20 months can be stayed once Aumua’s travel arrangements are completed for his return to Samoa. Court ordered that Aumua can be only be released from jail and taken straight to the airport for departure and must remain outside of the territory for a period of five years.

RYAN PITE JAILED FOR 28 MONTHS

Pite is charged in connection with two separate cases, one on January 8, 2012 and the second case occurring the next day. In the first case Pite is charged with robbery first degree, burglary first degree, stealing, conspiracy to commit burglary and property damage third degree and pled guilty to robbery second degree, burglary and stealing while the remaining charges were dismissed.

In the second case, Pite faces two charges of attempted burglary second degree, burglary first degree, conspiracy to commit burglary in the first degree, stealing, and three misdemeanor charges of property damage in the third degree. Pite pled guilty to burglary, attempted burglary and stealing while the government moved to dismiss the remaining charges.

During sentencing, Pite apologized for his actions to the government and the court. He extended his apologies to the victims, saying he learned a huge lesson while in jail and assured the court that this will not happen again.

White told the court that his family has basically disowned Pite and that he has turned to alcohol.

“It’s obvious that he needs to change his ways or he’ll be jailed for a very long time; he needs to grow up” said White. Poag told the court this was a crime spree of burglaries, where Pite broke into businesses, and a woman had been injured. Poag added that when Pite went to buy beer and the cashier refused to sell it to him, he took it, and when he was drunk and wanted more beer, he broke into another store. And when he wanted candy, he crashed the window to a store and got it.

“This man disregards the law and has no regard for anyone or the property that he has damaged,” said Poag. “He has a criminal history; even his mother said in the pre-sentence report that he (Pite) needs to be taught a lesson.”

“These are not innocent mistakes and this is a criminal with no regard for the law and the people of American Samoa and should be sentenced accordingly,” said Poag.

Richmond sentenced Pite for each count to seven years however the sentences are to be served concurrently, for robbery second degree, two counts of burglary first degree, two counts of felony stealing, and attempted burglary,

Execution of sentence was then suspended and Pite was placed on probation of five years under the condition that he serve 28-months in jail.

After serving ten months, the defendant can file a motion pertaining to work release for the court to entertain. Associate Judge Mamea told the defendant to heed the advice given to him by his lawyers, family and the judges and stay out of trouble.

Mamea added that Pite should have been jailed for 49 years given the charges against him, however the court has given him the chance to move forward in life and be a productive member of society.

SIAOSI VA’A JAILED FOR 20 MONTHS

Siaosi Va’a is charged in connection with the second case, which occurred on January 9, 2012. In a plea agreement with the government, Va’a pled guilty to burglary first-degree, attempted burglary and stealing while the government moved to dismiss remaining charges.

Va’a admitted that he tried to break into the Super Star store and attempted to pry open a back door to the store and in the process damaged the door, and he broke the front door to Lemau’s store and attempted to crawling into the store, along with Pite, they removed the video surveillance camera and took off with it. Va’a also admitted that he and Pite used rocks to smash a glass window at Leone Store where they reached into the store and stole boxes of candy and gum.

Va’a in tears apologized to the court, the government and his family for his actions, which have tarnished his family name. Va’a’s Uncle and mother also apologized on behalf of Va’a and told the court how Va’a is a big help within their family and pleaded with the court to allow Va’a to return home where he is needed.

White pleaded with the court to consider the plea from the family and place Va’a on probation. Poag told the court that Va’a was a party to the spree of burglaries and he was no doubt in bad company, but he had a chance to hold himself back and not be a part of the burglaries, yet he didn’t hold back.

“Especially after they terrorized one family who was living inside one of the stores they burglarized... the question that comes to mind is, what if this was Va’a’s mother and someone tried to break into her house while she was asleep? What if she was terrified like the other victim’s in this case?” asked Poag.

Richmond sentenced Va’a for the charges of burglary first degree, attempted burglary and stealing, with seven years for each count.

However execution of sentence was suspended and Va’a was placed on probation of five years under the condition that he serves 20 months in jail. Upon serving five months, the defendant can file a motion pertaining to work release for the court to entertain. Richmond ordered Va’a and Pite not to consume any alcohol, or congregate with persons consuming alcohol. The pair were also ordered to undergo alcohol counseling and visit the probation officer regularly.

Associate Judge Mamea told Va’a to literally consider his mother’s tears which have been shed because of him. Mamea added that Va’a should have been jailed for 28 years given the charges against him, however the court has considered giving him a chance in life and it is rare that the court gives chances.

Judge Mamea told Va’a that he will not get anything from alcohol or stealing, but he needs to be obedient to his mother and get a job to care for his family.



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