AMERICAN SAMOA COURT REPORT
A young man from Nuuuli with a long criminal history entered into a plea bargain with the government yesterday during court proceedings before District Court Judge Fiti Sunia.
Vaitele Tago, who is on probation, was initially charged with 4 misdemeanors including 2 counts of third degree assault, resisting arrest, and public peace disturbance.
However, under a plea agreement with the government, Tago pled guilty to public peace disturbance and the remaining charges were dismissed.
With his guilty plea, Tago admits that on Sept. 29, 2017 in Nuuuli, he disturbed the public peace by being involved in a fight, during which he became loud and created fear to others.
Judge Sunia sentenced Tago to 6 months probation.
According to court records, Tago has been detained since his arrest and therefore has already served 152 days in prison.
The court then ordered that Tago be released from the TCF but he will remain there, pending a hearing to revoke his probation in the High Court tomorrow at 9 a.m.
During court proceedings, Tago apologized for what he did, saying he is remorseful and that he has learned his lesson. He also apologized to his mother and family, especially those who were affected by his actions.
The government's case states that on the day of the incident, police responded to a call from someone in the Nuuuli area, requesting police assistance to a disturbance.
When the cops arrived, an unknown male who was later identified as Tago, yelled profanities to the police and asked them to leave the area.
In 2016, the High Court placed Tago on probation for five years, after he was convicted of felony driving and resisting arrest. As a condition of his probation, he was ordered to serve 20 months at the TCF and remain a law abiding citizen.
A man who is being charged with conspiracy to commit stealing - a felony - is scheduled for a jury trial on Mar. 19, 2018.
During a status hearing yesterday morning before Acting Associate Justice Elvis Patea, attorneys from both sides confirmed to the court that they are now prepared for Muka Godinet’s jury trial.
The court has set March 15th as the deadline to file any last minute pleas if both sides agree to an offer to avoid the case from going to a jury.
The single charge against Godinet, who is out on a $5,000 surety bond, stems from an incident last year whereby a group of young men broke into and stole items from an Asian owned store in Fagaima.
The government is accusing Godinet as being the driver of the car that was used to carry the stolen items from the store.
A man who dropped his children off at Matafao Elementary School yesterday morning ended up in District Court, after he was arrested for allegedly disturbing the peace by engaging in a fight with another individual.
Samuelu Selesele made his initial appearance before District Court Judge Fiti Sunia where he entered a 'not guilty' plea to one count of public peace disturbance.
After reviewing the police report, Judge Sunia ordered Selesele to be released on his own recognizance, under certain conditions that include no contact with the alleged victim.
According to the government, the defendant and the victim got into a disagreement that had to do with parking inside the school compound.
The verbal argument ended when Selesele allegedly punched the victim in the face, and police were contacted for assistance.
Selesele allegedly told police during questioning that he assaulted the victim because he was angry.
His next court appearance is set for March 23.
MAN WHO ASSAULTED HIS WIFE GETS 10 DAYS AT TCF
A man who was convicted by the District Court for assaulting his wife has been ordered to spend 10 days at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) as a condition of a 12-month probation term.
The detention period will see the defendant spending 5 straight weekends at the TCF.
(To protect the identity of the victim, Samoa News is withholding the defendant's name).
The defendant is a 43-year-old fisherman from Samoa who lives in Tafuna with his wife and two young children. Under a plea agreement with the government, he pled guilty to third degree assault, and the remaining charges were dismissed.
He is not new to the system. Back in 2011 he was convicted for private peace disturbance for the same thing: assaulting his wife.
During sentencing, the defendant apologized to the court and begged for another chance to return home.
According to him, he and his wife are still living together, despite what happened.
He told the court that ever since the incident last October, he hasn't been drinking or hanging out with the crowd he used to.
Conditions of probation including not threatening or harming his wife and children at any time, and he is to remain sober at all times.
He has to continue to work as a fisherman to provide for his family, and he must visit the Probation Office once a month.
The defendant’s conviction stems from an incident whereby he came home after work very intoxicated and got into an argument with his wife over financial issues.
He ended up assaulting his wife by pulling her hair and choking her while she was carrying their 2-year-old son.
A neighbor who heard the wife and her son screaming for help called police for assistance, which resulted in the defendant being arrested and charged.