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MARIJUANA DEFENDANT SENTENCED TO JAIL

Drug defendant Vili Oney, arrested in March following a Vice and Narcotics raid, was sentenced to one year in jail, as a condition of his five-year probation term. Sentencing for the defendant was handed down by Associate Justice Lyle L Richmond and Associate Judge Mamea Sala Jr.

Oney was initially charged with one count of unlawful possession of controlled substance of marijuana, a felony that is punishable from five to ten years in jail and/or a fine of up to $5,000.

However in a plea deal with the government Oney pled guilty to the same charge, but with the lesser penalty which is up to five years in jail.

The defendant apologized for his actions to the court, government and his family. He pleaded with the court that he wants to continue his college education so he can gain his degree and get a job to help his mother.

Attorney Sharron Rancourt asked the court for a probated sentence for the defendant. She noted that Oney has good grades in school, although he made a serious mistake. She asked the court to  postpone the sentencing six months for the defendant, while they wait and see how the defendant performs in school.

Assistant Attorney General Cable Poag said that if the court agrees with the defense lawyer’s suggestion in postponing sentencing, the government will not make any recommendation but wait until that time.

After deliberating on sentencing, Richmond denied the recommendation by the defense. The Associate Justice noted the defendant was a good kid until he graduated from high school and hung out with the wrong crowd.

Richmond noted the defendant admitted that he sold illegal drugs, which is why this case is very serious.

The defendant was sentenced to five years in jail, however execution of sentence was suspended and Oney was placed on five years’ probation under the condition that he serves 12 months in jail.

Richmond noted that if the defendant is enrolled at the American Samoa Community College, he will be released from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and if there are time changes for his classes, the defendant must file a motion for the court to address that issue.

The defendant was also ordered to pay a fine of $3,000, with the condition that upon completion of the payment of fine the sentence will be reduced to six months in jail.

Oney was ordered not to consume any alcohol, nor enter into bars or taverns and cannot congregate with people who are under the influence of alcohol.

He was also ordered to undergo and successfully complete drug and alcohol counseling and he must pay any fees for that course.

The defendant is also subject to random testing for alcohol or controlled substance, and police or probation officers may search him, his vehicle and home for alcohol and illegal substances.

In the government’s case, the Vice and Narcotics division executed a search warrant on the defendant’s bedroom, where they found what appeared to be loose marijuana substance, and marijuana residue was found in an empty shoe box.

The marijuana substance found in the defendant’s room was tested using Dusquenoise-Levine Test and came out positive for marijuana. Court filing says, when police questioned the defendant he immediately admitted the marijuana found in his room belonged to him.

MAMOE VAOGA ENTERS GUILTY PLEA

A man accused of forging his paycheck when he was terminated from work last year November will be sentenced on July 19, 2012 after he entered into a plea agreement with the government.

Mamoe Vaoga was charged with stealing and two counts of forgery for making and uttering. Presiding over the matter was Associate Justice Lyle L Richmond and Associate Judge Mamea Sala Jr.

In a plea agreement with the government, Vaoga pleaded guilty to stealing and forgery (making) while the remaining count of forgery (uttering) will be dismissed.

Stealing and Forgery are both class C felonies, which are punishable by up to seven years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000, a fine equal to twice the amount of gain from commission of the said crime up to $20,000 or both fine and imprisonment.

According to the plea agreement that was read in open court, by the defendant’s plea of guilty, he admits that on November, 2011 he received his final paycheck from his previous employer Atlas Construction in the amount of $151.74, after which he added a number “1” on it making the check $1,151.74 and he cashed the check at ANZ bank.

Richmond told the defendant that recommendations made by the counsels of both parties are not binding on the court; and if the court accepts his guilty plea and the court renders a sentence harsher than what was recommended the defendant cannot come back to withdraw his guilty plea.

Richmond then accepted the plea agreement between the defendant and the government.

According to the government’s case the managers of the Atlas Construction — Filioali’i Ioane Laumatia and So’otaga Fuala’au — filed a complaint at the Tafuna West Substation accusing Vaoga of forging his paycheck to reflect a larger amount.

According to the government’s case the defendant was intoxicated while working which led to his being terminated from his job on November 2, 2011. Two days later he received his last paycheck of $151.74. However, the defendant altered the check and then cashed it at the ANZ Amerika Samoa Bank. The defendant told police he was frustrated when he was caught being intoxicated and terminated.

He told police that since it was his last paycheck from Atlas Construction he decided to make changes to it.

The defendant remains in custody on bail of $10,000. Assistant Public Defender Mike White represents the defendant while prosecuting is Assistant Attorney General Kimberly Hyde.



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