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Court Report



Two brothers made their initial appearance in the District Court yesterday following a land dispute in Nu’uuli on Friday over Fanene family land. Pisa and Jerry Schwenke are both charged with public peace disturbance and third degree assault, however Assistant Attorney General Lornalei Meredith-Fanene noted that the government may file additional charges in this case.


Samoa News notes that the prosecutor in this case has no ties to the Fanene family mentioned in this article.


According to the government’s case, police received a call about a fight among two families at the Fanene family land in Nu’uuli and Police Officer Talia Seloti was assigned to this case.  Police responded to the call and upon arriving at the scene they saw several people were injured and they contacted the Emergency Medical Services for assistance. Football star Johnathan Fanene told Police that he was not at the scene when the incident occurred, however, he had seen rocks being thrown at his residence.


A police investigation found that the dispute started over a load of dirt which several people argued about where it would be unloaded.


Fanene family members told police Jerry didn't want the dirt to be unloaded on their property and he threatened the truck driver. It’s alleged Pisa walked over to the victim — who had bought the load — and punched him in the face repeatedly. Court filings say that the second victim (a woman) attempted to stop the fight and was struck in the head with a rock by Jerry, the government alleges.


The government claims the woman was unconscious as a result of the attack.




Reupena Siaulaiga, facing one count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance, marijuana, pled guilty to the criminal count against him, which was the result of a plea agreement between the government and the defendant. The criminal count, a felony,  was filed after police allegedly caught him with four marijuana joints.


Chief Justice Michael Kruse accepted the plea agreement and scheduled sentencing for the defendant next month.


According to the government’s case, police officers working with underage drinking law enforcement on New Year’s Day, responded to a call regarding juveniles drinking near MJ Store. It’s alleged that upon arrival at the scene it was observed that four males were drinking beer and Reupena was one of them.


Court filings say police officers witnessed Reupena discarding something from his pockets into the bushes nearby, a plastic bag allegedly containing four hand rolled marijuana joints. Police seized the plastic bag, and the joints tested positive as marijuana.


According to the government’s case, police questioned the defendant who gave a written statement, telling police that he received the plastic baggy from his friend, who was leaving the territory.


Reupena told police that he had the baggy on him when police showed up and while he was trying to put the baggy into his pocket it fell to the ground which is when police officers saw it.




Mike Atonio charged in an assault case will have his change of plea hearing today before Associate Justice Lyle L Richmond, in connection with a fight that occurred in front of the Family Mart in Nu’uuli.  Atonio is charged with second degree assault, a class D felony, punishable with up to five years in prison, a fine of $5,000, or both fine and jail time. He is also charged with public peace disturbance, a class B misdemeanor which carries a jail term of up to six months, a fine of $500, or both.   


Details of the plea have yet to be disclosed. According to the government’s case, the victim alleges that he was walking to the store with his nephew when he saw someone he wanted to speak with, and that person was sitting and drinking with a group of guys. 


It’s alleged the victim called out to the person he wanted to speak to, when he was struck in the head with a beer bottle.


The defendant said the victim started to pick a fight with him and another guy and the victim grabbed the defendant’s shirt along the waistline. The defendant further told police that he felt that the victim was concealing a gun tucked in his shorts, because he kept reaching for them,  and the victim was making threats toward the defendant and another guy.


The defendant said he got scared, so he hit the victim over the head with a beer bottle and took off home.  


According to the government’s case, the investigating officer, Lawrence Sagapolutele, again interviewed the victim, whereby the victim said his shorts didn’t have a belt, so that is why he kept grabbing his shorts and that he did not have a gun and he never tried to make it look like he had a gun. The victim sustained a laceration to his head that required five stitches.