Pago Page, AMERICAN SAMOA — A woman accused of assaulting two women at church was sentenced late last week by the District Court.
Court information says Monica Asovale was charged with two counts of misdemeanor third degree assault for the incident.
According to the court affidavit, the defendant and one of the women got into an argument, which resulted in Asovale assaulting the woman. Another women, who stepped in to stop the assault, fell down after Asovale pushed her.
Under a plea agreement with the government, Asovale pled guilty to one count of third degree assault and the remaining charge was dismissed. She was sentenced late last week to 12-months probation under several conditions, which include paying a $100 fine within the first 30-days of probation.
Asovale spent one day in jail for pre-trial confinement.
The court waived a 15-day jail term as part of her probation.
She was warned that in any future disputes, she is not to take matters into her own hands because no one is above the law.
HUSBAND ACCUSED OF ASSAULTING WIFE
Early last week, a 41-year-old man made his initial appearance in District Court on two misdemeanor counts of third degree assault and private peace disturbance after he allegedly assaulted his wife.
Court information states that the defendant had consumed alcohol at the time he is alleged to have assaulted his wife last Monday, and that the incident occurred after the husband arrived home that day and noticed some family issues that were not taken care of by his wife.
Thereafter, says the court affidavit, the defendant allegedly started yelling at his wife and this escalated to a heated argument between the couple.
The husband then allegedly hit his wife in the face, pulled her hair, and pushed her down on the floor of their home.
The wife’s loud screams for help prompted neighbors to call police for assistance. The defendant was taken into custody and appeared last Tuesday in District Court.
While the defendant is released on his own recognizance, the court has ordered that he find another place to stay while his case is pending in court. He is also ordered not to make direct or indirect contact with his wife without the court’s permission.
To protect the identity of the victims in domestic cases, Samoa News does not identify the defendants by name.
FORMER CUSTOMS AGENT PLEADS GUILTY
A 48-year-old customs agent accused of stealing money from the government has pled guilty under a plea bargain with the government that was accepted by the High Court on Friday, Mar. 2, 2018.
Sefulu Maifea was initially charged by the government for stealing and embezzlement — both class C felonies, punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to 7 years, and or a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
He pled guilty to embezzlement and the court dismissed the stealing count.
In his admission, the defendant admitted that between Sept. 15- 17 of last year, while employed by the American Samoa Government, as a Customs Agent, he misappropriated money that belonged to the Department of Treasury, when he was assigned to work at the Pago Pago International Airport. He told the court that his action that day was without legal authority or excuse.
Prosecuting the case is Assistant Attorney Woodrow Pengelly while Public Defender Douglas Fiaui is representing the defendant, who is out on a surety bond, and is scheduled to appear in High Court on May 4th for sentencing.
MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO MISDEMEANOR STEALING
The District Court last week sentenced Tolu Aleni to 12-months probation after he pled guilty to misdemeanor stealing while another misdemeanor charge — public peace disturbance — was dismissed under a plea agreement with the government.
The government’s case against Aleni stems from an incident last month where the defendant stole a bag containing small work equipment that was in the bed of a pick up truck parked in front of a store in Tafuna.
A couple who was in their car in front of the store witnessed the robbery and informed the owner of the bag, who then contacted police. Efforts to locate the defendant at the time of the robbery were unsuccessful until the evening hours when he was seen drinking alcohol with friends.
When police tried to take Aleni into custody, court information says the defendant started swearing at the cops. The stolen bag was recovered that evening and returned to its rightful owner.
VISITING TOURIST FROM SAMOA ORDERED TO RETURN HOME ASAP
A man from Samoa, who arrived in the territory recently under a 30-day visitor’s permit, and is described by the District Court as a visiting tourist, has been ordered to return to his home country and not to break any local laws, if he wants to visit American Samoa again in the future.
Vaeluaga Meki was convicted and sentenced last week for one count of public peace disturbance, following an incident where he caused trouble at a store and challenged the Asian store operator to a fight after the operator told Meki that local laws prohibit stores from selling alcohol after 10p.m.
According to court information, Meki went to the store with some friends and while there, one of Meki's friends told him that he was wrong to challenge the storeowner to a fight after he refused to sell them beer. Meki then turned around and challenged his friend to a fight. He also challenged the taxi driver who had taken them to the store.
The incident occurred after Meki arrived in American Samoa two weeks earlier from Samoa. He was on island to visit family.
During sentencing, District Court Judge Fiti A. Sunia told the defendant that if he is a visitor to American Samoa, he must respect and follow the laws of the territory.
Sunia told Meki he is “very lucky” that his actions didn’t cause any major problems that would've resulted in the court handing down a much harsher sentence.
Meki was sentenced to 6-months probation under several conditions, which include a fine of $100. He is not to violate any local laws and he must return to Samoa as soon as possible.
If Meki is granted a 30-day visitor’s permit in the future, Sunia warned him not to commit any crime but to respect the laws of the territory.