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Court Report



Associate Justice Lyle L Richmond handed down a six-month sentence for Alesana Peko for escaping while on work release. Peko, a Port Administration employee, was serving 90 days in jail since October 2013 for felony driving. While out on a work release program, he was allegedly caught trying to smuggle marijuana joints into jail on New Year’s Eve.


The new drug case against Peko came to light on Dec. 31, 2013 when during a procedural search of inmates returning to jail from work release, correction officers discovered two half joints in each of the defendant’s pockets, which tested positive for marijuana. Defendant’s bail in the drug case was set at $5,000.


In a plea deal with the government, the defendant pleaded guilty to the escape charge while the drug charge was dismissed as part of the agreement.


During sentencing, Peko apologized to the court for breaking the law and asked the court for a chance. The defendant’s daughter also took the stand and asked the court to be lenient with her father as her graduation is slated for June and she wants her dad to be present to witness this important day.


Richmond sentenced the defendant to five years in jail, however execution of sentence was suspended and the defendant placed on five years probation. Richmond pointed out the defendant is not new to the court system and has broken the law many times for DUI.


The defendant was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine within 12 months and the court can entertain a motion filed by defense counsel as per request from his daughter for Peko to attend her graduation.


In his felony driving case, Ward revoked the defendant’s driver’s license for life and ordered him to pay restitution, which could be between $400 and $1,200 —  depending on what the government imposes to fix the damaged vehicle. Peko was also ordered to pay a fine of $2,000; however, the court deferred $1900 and the defendant was ordered to pay $100 — which will be taken from the $500 bond he posted.


A felony driving conviction carries a mandatory jail term of 90 days. It’s unclear if he’s still on work release since the new drug case was filed.




An Aua woman who claimed she worked for the American Samoa Government to purchase airline tickets from J&J World Travel, was scheduled to be sentenced before the court yesterday, after she entered into a plea agreement with the government.


Maria Sailelei Tuilagi was arrested and criminally charged after the incident was reported to the police by the owner of J&J World Travel.


During the change of plea hearing the defendant admitted to the criminal conduct and admitted using the money.


When the woman appeared in court yesterday, however, she had pink eye and Associate Justice Lyle L RIchmond ordered this matter to be continued until next week while the woman recovers from her illness.


According to the government’s case the Travel Agency processed the six tickets, however during the processing of payment, J&J World Travel Agency found out that Sailele-Tuilagi was not an employee of ASDOE.


Court filings say police spoke to those who traveled off island, using the tickets obtained by Sailele-Tuilagi through the travel agency, and were told the defendant had offered to get them discount tickets to the mainland. One of the tickets purchased was for the defendant’s daughter, who left on a one-way ticket to Kansas City, Missouri.