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DEFENDANTS IN STONING INCIDENT RECEIVE SECOND CHANCE + FINES

“Don’t live reckless lives, police officers are human beings who are chosen by the government to serve and protect the people of American Samoa”.

These were comments rendered by Associate Judge Mamea Sala Jr who accompanied Associate Justice Lyle L Richmond on the bench while handing down sentencing for the four men convicted of throwing stones at police vehicles, with a senior police officer being injured.

The four young men charged in connection with the stoning of three police vehicles in Nu’uuli late last year—Vani Mathew Atafua, Siaosi Palauni Laulu, Benjamin Maybir, and Iosefa Falealo —were sentenced yesterday.

All four pled guilty to conspiracy to commit property damage under a plea deal with the government.

The defendants admitted that they conspired to throw rocks at passing police vehicles and that some or all of them did throw rocks at the vehicles, resulting in damages. The defendants also agreed to pay restitution of $2,050 to cover vehicle repairs.

During sentencing the defendants apologized to the court, the government, their families, their parents and to the Department of Public Safety.

The Associate Justice sentenced the four defendants to two years probation, however execution of sentencing was suspended and they were placed on probation for a period of two years under the condition they remain law abiding citizens.

Richmond also ordered defendants not to consume any alcohol or congregate with people who are intoxicated. Additionally, they are subject to random testing for alcohol by any police officer or probation officer.

The court also ordered the defendants to apologize to Lt Ta’ase Fasi who was injured in this incident and were ordered to each pay a $1,000 fine.  If they are in school, they must remain in school, if they are not in school they must obtain a job.

They were also ordered to visit their probation officer regularly and must pay the amount of $2,050 to the court registry severally or jointly to repair the damaged police vehicles.

Three juveniles who were also charged in connection with this case have been sentenced to probation in juvenile court.

According to the government’s case the juveniles had been throwing rocks in the Nuuuli area where Lt. Fasi was patrolling and while they were stoning his vehicle, one rock hit his face, injuring his eye.

Court filings say Laulu told police he saw his friends, Atafua, Maybir, Falealo and the three juveniles randomly throwing stones at vehicles passing by, then Laulu told his friends to aim at only police vehicles.

The defendants are alleged to have stoned three police vehicles, a van, a SUV and a sedan the same night.

ASG MOVES TO DISMISS CASE AGAINST LOLA REID

Assistant Attorney General Cable Poag is moving to dismiss the criminal charges against Marie Lorraine Reid also known as Lola Reid a former member of the Pago Pago Yacht Club (PPYC) Board who is facing embezzlement and stealing charges on allegations that she misappropriated funds belonging to the American Samoa Sailing Association (ASSA) without proper authorization.

This move was announced yesterday before District Court Judge John Ward when Reid’s case was called for a preliminary examination hearing.

Poag asked the court to dismiss the charges against Reid noting that the defendant has issued a check returning the money to the PPYC. Ward ordered the government to have the dismissal motion in writing and file it with the court.

Reid is out on bail of $5,000 and is represented by Assistant Public Defender Leslie Cardin. The embezzlement charge is a class C felony and carries a jail term of up to seven years, a fine of $5,000,  a fine equal to twice the amount of gain from the commission of said crime up to a maximum of $20,000, or both fine and imprisonment.

Reid is also facing stealing, which is a class C felony punishable for up to seven years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000, a fine equal to twice the amount of gain from the commission of the said crime up to a maximum of $20,000, or both the fine and imprisonment.

According to the government’s case, on February 3, 2011 James McGuire filed a complaint with the Department of Public Safety regarding the ASSA Bank of Hawaii account, which was allegedly used by Reid for personal use.

Court documents say that prior to the incident Reid was a member and officer of the PPYC. Reid had been elected as the Rear Commodore and she was the primary signer on the subsidiary corporation for the ASSA bank account.

According to court documents, the ASSA board of directors requires two signatures to withdraw funds from the ASSA account. The police affidavit states that Reid abused that fiduciary responsibility and signed a number of ASSA Junior Sailing fund checks made out to her name, and cashed them.

According to the government’s case, Reid made a written statement to the police saying that she was took funds in the form of six checks -made out to her - out of the ASSA Junior Sailing fund “to keep the kid’s money safe from McGuire.”

In court documents Reid admitted to cashing six checks from August 12, 2010 to November 15, 2010, payable to herself and endorsed by herself without a second signature.

FAIMA FRUEAN FILES MOTION TO SUPPRESS EVIDENCE

 Drug defendant Faima Fruean who has denied the charges of unlawful possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine) against him has moved to file a motion to suppress evidence in his case.

Presiding over the matter was Chief Justice Michael Kruse. The defendant is released on bail of  $20,000. According to the government’s case Fruean was seen at a residence of someone who was under police surveillance for a period of time, and when the defendant left the residence he was approached by police.

Court filings state that police found a plastic baggie containing methamphetamine inside his wallet. The court document says Fruean told police he picked up drug defendant Romeo Peretania where he pulled out a black plastic round container and put it in the glove compartment of Fruean’s vehicle. Fruean said to police he allegedly stole one small baggie containing methamphetamine leaving five more small baggies inside the plastic container.

The hearing for the suppression of evidence is now set for next month.

CASES CONTINUED FOR ELDERLY MEN FACING RAPE, SEXUAL ABUSE

 The government’s case against two elderly men in their 60’s who are facing sexually related charges have been continued. Assistant Public Defender Michael White, who represents the pair, said they are still going through negotiation and more time is needed.

Associate Justice Lyle Richmond granted the request and scheduled both cases for April 12, 2012.

Sixty-seven- year old taxi driver, Siulepa Auelua of Nu’uuli who’s held on bail of $35,000 is accused of having sex with a 16 year-old girl.

He’s facing Statutory Rape (having sexual intercourse with a girl who’s 16 and under ), Sexual Abuse First Degree, Sodomy, Deviate Sexual Assault and a misdemeanor charge of Endangering Welfare of a Child.

The second case is a 64 year-old man whose name cannot be revealed to protect the identity of the victim, who is a relative.

This defendant is in custody with bail set at  $100,000 on allegations that he had engaged in sexual contact with a six year-old female relative. The defendant is facing felony charges of Child Molestation, Rape, Sexual Abuse First Degree, Deviate Sexual Assault and a misdemeanor count of Endangering the Welfare of a Child.

It is alleged the sexual incidents between the 64 year-old man and the minor began in August, 2011 with the latest incident January 6, 2012.

They are represented by the Public Defender’s office while prosecuting is Deputy Attorney General Mitzie Jessop-Folau. The new pre-trial conference date for this matter is scheduled within two weeks.



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