FOLASA SENTENCED TO 28 MONTHS FOR ATTEMPTED ARSON
Chief Justice Michael Kruse has sentenced Malaeola Folasa to 28 months in jail, as part of his 7-year sentence, after he pleaded guilty to attempted arson - a class C felony punishable by up to seven years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000 or both. The defendant apologized for his actions at the Morris Scanlan Gas Station last year.
Folasa, originally from Samoa and living in the territory for over a decade, was initially charged with first degree attempted arson and public peace disturbance; however, in a plea agreement, Folasa pled guilty to attempted arson while the remaining charge was dismissed.
Folasa pleaded with the court to allow him to return home to care for his mother and family. Assistant Public Defender Leslie Cardin informed the court the defendant was gainfully employed when this incident occurred and alcohol played a huge role in the crime. Cardin acknowledged the defendant’s reckless behavior saying he was overly intoxicated, and does not recall what occurred on the day in question. She recommended the court order the defendant to undergo alcohol counseling.
Kruse noted that Folasa is currently on probation for a public peace disturbance where he was also under the influence of alcohol.
Assistant Attorney General Camille Philippe said jail time is warranted in this case. “Fortunately the defendant’s actions were unsuccessful; however it could have been a disaster if he succeeded,” she said.
The Chief Justice sentenced the defendant to 7 years in jail; however, execution of the sentence is suspended and Folasa is placed on probation for 7 years under the conditions that he serve 28 months in jail without any release. Afterwards, Folasa must depart the territory and remain outside the territory for the duration of his sentence.
Kruse made it clear that the 28 months sentence is to run consecutively with previous sentencing handed down by the District Court. The defendant was also slapped with a $2,000 fine.
The CJ told the government to use the defendant’s immigration bond to pay for his return to Samoa. For the fine, he directed the government to immigration regulations indicating that the sponsor is responsible.
He also instructed the probation office to send a letter of conviction to the District Court, given that he has a prior record there.
According to the government’s case, police were called to the gas station for assistance on Sept. 27, 2012 where some drunken men were causing a disturbance. The men claimed they were upset that the gas station was not respecting the village curfew.
The government claims that Folasa tried to blow up the gas station. Police were provided with a surveillance video from the gas station where the defendant was seen repeatedly grabbing fuel pumps and holding up a lighter with an open flame just a few inches from it.
COURT POSTPONES SENTENCING FOR TAUMALOTO AIAVA
Sentencing for Taumaloto Aiava who pleaded guilty to second degree assault for striking another man with a tire iron has been continued.
Aiava apologized for his actions and said he was remorseful.
Testifying on the defendant's behalf was his church Bishop who informed the court that Aiava has anger issues and there are programs that can help him. The Bishop told the court Aiava's parents are off island seeking medical treatment and he is staying with his sister. He said the defendant was having problems with his fiancé and they are working things out slowly.
Assistant Public Defender Mike White said it was obvious the defendant has anger management problems. He said Aiava does not know the victim, who was an innocent bystander that received the blunt of his anger.
Assistant Attorney General Camille Philippe recommended the defendant receive treatment for his anger issues and reminded the court about restitution. Kruse noted that Aiava has immigration issues and sentencing was postponed.
According to the government’s case, the assault occurred at Samoana High School, when the victim came by to pick up his daughter from volleyball practice and was approached by the defendant. Aiava took a swing at the victim’s head with a tire iron, missed, and then allegedly poked the victim’s face with the sharp edge of the tire iron causing the victim's lip to bleed.