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Court Report



Chief Justice Michael Kruse told Derek Ropati, a repeat offender who escaped from jail four times, that he is lucky the government has yet to charge him as a “persistent felon”.


Ropati is currently serving time in jail for previous criminal convictions and was charged with escaping from police custody on May 31, 2011. Sefo Lemalu is co-defendant in this case. Ropati pled guilty to escape from police custody in this latest case.


Court filing says the two men escaped from the Correctional Facility by raising the fence and crawling underneath. Police officers apprehended Ropati at Manulele Elementary School later the same day around 6 p.m., while Lemalu was apprehended by police behind the Tutuila store, also on the same day they escaped.


According to the government’s case Ropati was being held in custody following a conviction for escaping from jail previously, while serving time in a murder case for which he was convicted; and, Lemalu was incarcerated for a previous escape and robbery case.


Kruse accepted the plea agreement and scheduled sentencing in this matter for June 7, 2013.






A man accused of stealing money from a cash register in a store in Tafuna earlier this year entered into a plea agreement with the government last Friday. Cameron Ieremia who was initially charged with first-degree burglary, stealing and public peace disturbance, pleaded guilty to the stealing count while the remaining charges were dismissed as part of the plea deal.


Chief Justice Michael Kruse accepted the plea agreement and scheduled sentencing for the defendant on June 7, 2013.


During the plea agreement Ieremia admitted taking the money from the cash register in the Nuuuli store on January 12, 2013 of which he returned $1,300 to the police. Assistant Attorney General Julie Pasquale informed the court that the money has been returned to the store owner.


Ieremia had given $300 to his co-defendant Wayne Peleiupu and he has agreed to pay a difference of $176 to the store. Peleiupu recently pled guilty to aiding and abetting and will also be sentenced in June.




A baker, Sainini Foster who allegedly failed to deliver a wedding cake she was paid to bake, was charged with stealing, a class C felony punishable by imprisonment for up to seven years, a fine of up to $5,000 or both, and is fighting her case in a jury trial scheduled for December 2013.


The defendant, who's out on bail of $2,500 is represented by Assistant Public Defender Leslie Cardin. During the pre-trial conference hearing last week, Cardin informed the court that they failed to come to an agreement in this case and asked the court for a jury trial date.


According to the government’s case, on Dec. 15, 2012 a woman filed a complaint with the police that she had paid Foster $920 to make a wedding cake, but on the wedding day the family was told there was no cake and the defendant could not be reached. 


Court filings say the victim made three separate pre-payments, on three separate dates, with the final payment made on Dec. 7, 2012 in the amount of $200, plus a $20 tip. The victim claims that the defendant was informed of the wedding date, and the time the cake needed to be delivered. According to court filings, the victim told police that the defendant said she would deliver the cake and set it up. 


However, on the day of the wedding no cake was delivered and the defendant could not be reached. 


Police were able to locate the defendant, who is a cook with the Department of Education, but who also bakes wedding cakes in her free time, using her mother’s business license. Foster confirmed that the victim did pay her $920 for a wedding cake, which was for the victim’s nephew. 


Defendant confirmed she was prepaid for the cake, including the tip. The jury trial has been scheduled for Dec. 16, 2013.




Sialeitu Mauga is facing felony charges following an incident that occurred in Fatu ma Futi on Jan. 20, 2013. Sialeitu is held on bail of $5,000 on charges of second degree assault and property damage. His co-defendant Bogdaw Tuiletufuga is also charged with two counts of second degree assault. Both defendants are represented by the Public Defender’s office while prosecuting is Assistant Attorney General Kimberly Hyde.


According to the government’s case a woman in an attempt to stop a fight between Tuiletufuga and another man during a drinking session, was hit on the head with a flashlight allegedly thrown by Tuiletufuga. The woman is the sister of Sialeitu.


Sialeitu also struck Tuiletufuga’s vehicle with a shovel, leaving damages that were estimated at $3,856.


During the plea agreement the defendant entered a guilty plea to property damage while the assault charge was dismissed.  Kruse accepted the plea agreement and scheduled sentencing on June 7, 2013.




Ioane Logovi’i who pleaded guilty to third degree assault last week amended from assault in the first degree, was sentenced to time served.


Chief Justice Michael Kruse handed down sentencing in this case last Friday. During the plea agreement hearing, upon questioning from Chief Justice Michael Kruse, the defendant admitted putting the knife against the victim.


Kruse asked the defendant if he agrees that it's unfair that he was the only one charged in the altercation, and if the complaining witness should have also been charged, the defendant replied “yes”.


According to the government’s case, police received a report by a complaining witness that the defendant had stabbed him in the hand, while accusing him of stealing items from his house and also attempted to stab him in his leg but missed. 


Court documents state that the Emergency Medical Services treated the injuries the victim sustained from the alleged attack, and it’s alleged the injuries were not serious. The incident took place in front of a store in the village of Fagatogo.


Police confiscated the knife from the defendant’s residence, and it has been turned into the police evidence room.