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Former TCF officer fined $5,000 for permitting prisoners to go walk about

joy@samoanews.com

Former police officer, Fiti Aina escaped jail time, but was slapped with a $5,000 fine for his role in allowing inmates to leave the Tafuna Correctional facility for a beer run to a nearby store.
 
In October last year Chief Justice Michael Kruse postponed the sentencing of former officer Aina for six months, but did not specify the reason for his decision at the time.  Aina was one of two police officers charged on allegations they allowed inmates at the TCF to go on a beer run to a nearby store.  Aina has pled guilty to permitting escape. 
 
Aina and fellow officer Rocky Tua were arrested last July and were out on bail of $15,000 on charges of aiding the escape of a prisoner, permitting escape, and public servant acceding to corruption. Aina pled guilty to permitting escape and the remaining charges were dismissed; however Tua fought his case before a jury, and he was acquitted of all charges following a three- day jury trial.
 
Last year Aina apologized for his actions, noting that he failed to carry out the oath that he had sworn to uphold. He said he also failed the oath “made to my wife and children, which has led me before the court.”  Aina noted that he’s remorseful for his actions, and asked the court for another chance, pointing out that his household consists of him and his wife, and their three children. He further stated his wife just started working while he stays home and looks after their three minor children.
 
His wife took the stand and pleaded with the court to allow her husband a second chance, as she just started working as a teacher.  
 
During sentencing last week Kruse noted that there are a lot of issues at the TCF pointed out in the probation report, and when such issues are brought forth, the court questions who really runs the jail — whether it’s the police or the inmates. He further stated that with the problems revealed at TCF, Aina is the only officer who was caught, and the only officer who has admitted to his actions at the jail.
 
Kruse said that when he postponed this matter for six months it was to allow the defendant to work with the government and see in what ways Aina could assist with the problems at the jail. Assistant Attorney General Tony Graf was questioned about Aina’s cooperation with the government within the six months and the answer was yes, he did cooperate.
 
During the sentencing last year, Fiti Sunia who represents Aina, pointed out the defendant is a good candidate for probation, given he’s a first time offender and he’s a contributing member of society.  Sunia also stated that Aina took full responsibility for his actions and he didn’t place the blame on anyone but himself. Sunia further stated that Aina offered to voluntarily assist the government in efforts to fix the ongoing problems at the Tafuna Correctional Facility.  
 
Last week, Sunia asked the court not to impose a jail sentence for Aina, but instead recommended that he be placed on probation and Assistant AG Graf did not object to the recommendation.
 
Kruse sentenced Aina to five years in jail, however execution of sentencing was suspended and he’s placed on probation for five years under the condition that he pays a fine of $5,000 and remains a law-abiding citizen.
 
The charges were filed in this case after a raid of the prison by police uncovered numerous contraband items including beer bottles, a flat screen TV, screwdrivers, tools, fans, and cell phones — all of which were seized by CID detectives.



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