Court Report


District Court Judge John Ward this week sent three overstayers to their home country of Samoa after their encounters with the law. They are Lomona Seumanutafa, Fa’amanatu Tugaga and Raponi Siaulaiga.
Seumanutafa, who came into the territory on a 30-day permit last year August, was arrested on New Year’s Day when the vehicle he was operating got into an accident. He did not have a valid driver’s license to operate the vehicle.
Tugaga was also arrested on New Year’s day for public peace disturbance, and he too entered the territory on a 30-day permit, which had expired.  
Siaulaiga was arrested on December 26, 2013 when police pulled him over and found his driver’s license was expired along with his immigration ID — which had expired in 2011.
The prosecutor said in Siaulaiga’s case, he does have a chance to renew his ID, however he must pay the fines for not renewing since 2011. Judge Ward noted there should be ways to expedite the renewal of people’s ID with Immigration, rather than having them fill up the already over-crowded Tafuna Correction Facility.
Assistant Attorney General Lornalei Meredith-Fanene explained to Ward that Siaulaiga’s ID had expired in 2011 when he was serving time in jail on a separate conviction.
(Siaulaiga, according to Samoa News archives, was arrested and charged in 2011 for the murder of Sio Faumui in Malaeimi. Initially, Siaulaiga, a resident of Pava’ia’i was charged with  three other men for second degree murder, however in a plea deal with the government all four men pled guilty to negligent homicide. They were all sentenced in 2012 to 20 months in jail, as part of a five-year probation.)
Ward sentenced all three men to two years probation under the condition that they leave the territory and not return for a year, and not attempt to enter the territory before then.
A man who broke into the Tutuila Store with the intention of stealing has entered into a plea agreement with the government. Viane So’onalole 19, was initially charged with second degree burglary, a felony, along with a charge of misdemeanor attempted stealing. However in a plea deal with the government, the defendant pled guilty to the burglary charge while the misdemeanor charge was dismissed.
Following his guilty plea, the defendant admitted when he was inside the Tutuila Store office, he had taken coins and phone cards, keys to said office and a suitcase filled with items from the store. He attempted to leave the store with the suitcase, but he didn't succeed.
Chief Justice Michael Kruse accepted the plea agreement and scheduled sentencing for Jan. 31, 2014.
Former government employee, Fiapapalagi Eteuati Letuli, who is charged with eight counts of stealing and eight counts of forgery on allegations that she had forged government checks from the American Samoa Economic Stimulus Recovery office (ASESRO), had her signed plea agreement with the government read in open court yesterday.
According to the plea deal, the defendant is to enter a guilty plea to one count of stealing and one count of forgery while the other six charges will be dismissed. Chief Justice Michael Kruse called the attorneys to the bench and then postponed the matter to next week Thursday.
According to the government’s case, the investigation against Letuli was launched at the request of ASESRO Director Pat Galea’i earlier this year, in light of allegations the defendant had forged and cashed ASG payroll checks made out to another ASESRO employee, Gale Clarke, who was on leave without pay.
Court filings state the Director confronted the defendant, given that she was the one responsible for payroll checks. It’s alleged the defendant admitted to submitting time sheets and sick leave slips for Clarke, and then signing her name, knowing Clarke was on medical leave.
Court filings say Letuli admitted she stole the money in order to pay for loans, church, and family obligations. The investigator also spoke to Clarke, who said she was on leave between January and July 2011, and did not return to American Samoa until late August 2011.
Clarke said she was on medical leave without pay and she did not consent for the defendant to process any paperwork to receive payroll checks, nor did she give the defendant permission to sign her name to cash the checks.
The government claims a total of eight checks were issued, beginning January,  2011 through August 5th of the same year, and the amount for those checks totaled $7,860.65.


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