Court Report

Translated by Samoa News staff

MUSU FAILAUGA

The High Court has continued to next week Monday the sentencing hearing on the case of a woman accused of possession of marijuana as the judges seek further clarification before sentence is handed down.

The government’s case against Ms. Musu Failauga stems from an incident on Aug. 13 this year when the defendant went to the Tafuna police substation to discuss an issue with a police officer and ended up getting into an argument with a police woman resulting in Failauga being arrested for public peace disturbance, according to court information, which didn’t specify details of the argument or why the defendant went to see a police officer.

And when police conducted a search, they found in the defendant’s bag a piece of paper wrapped around marijuana, as well as a pipe used for smoking meth. She was then arrested for illegal possession of marijuana.

In the bag, according to court information, police also found a checkbook in the name of A & E Corporation as well as proof that a $180 check from the checkbook had already been cashed by the defendant at a store in Nu’uuli on Aug. 3. Additionally, the defendant knew that there were no funds in the checking account.

Early this month, Failauga’s plea agreement with the government was read in court and the defendant admitted to what occurred at the Tafuna police substation and the marijuana found in her bag as well as the checkbook. In exchange to pleading guilty to the marijuana possession charge, the government agreed not to file any charges against the defendant for signing the $180 check and cashing it at a Nu’uuli store. The government also agreed that it would argue for the defendant to repay the $180 to the store involved as part of any court sentence.

Failauga, who remains in custody unable to post bail, appeared Wednesday for sentencing but the court continued it to Monday, while trying to learn more from both sides as to whether the defendant actually signed the $180 check and cashed it a Nu’uuli store.

VILIAMU UPUTAUA

District Court Judge Fiti A. Sunia on Wednesday sentenced Viliamu Uputaua to 12 months probation, after he pled guilty, under a plea agreement with the government, to misdemeanor third degree assault, while three other misdemeanor counts were dismissed.

The charges against the defendant stem from an incident in which he and another man got into an argument while drinking beer, resulting in Uputaua punching the victim, whose cell phone was also damaged by the defendant.

During sentencing the defendant asked for a second chance to change his life, but Sunia told the defendant that if he violates any conditions of the probation, “you will end up serving a long period of time” behind bars.

Among the conditions of probation set by the court, is that the defendant pay a $125 fine, and is banned from consuming alcohol, and must attend and complete alcohol counseling. The defendant was also warned that he must not commit any other crime during the probation period.

TALIGALU AH SIU

Late last week, District Court Judge Fiti A. Sunia sentenced Taligalu Ah Siu to four months imprisonment, after he was convicted of several charges, which stem from two separate incidents this year where he broke in to homes and stole gasoline so he could sniff it to get high.

He was initially charged with misdemeanor charges of stealing, burglary, trespassing and public peace disturbance. But under a plea agreement with the government that was accepted by the court, the defendant pled guilty to two misdemeanors stealing counts and trespassing and the other charges were dismissed.

Ah Siu has appeared in court a couple of times before for stealing gasoline to sniff it to get high. During sentencing late last week, Sunia told the defendant that the government is trying to help him with his addiction but the defendant needs to help himself first.

The government says this is a sad situation for the fact that the court and the government have given the defendant several chances, following past convictions but still the addiction problem faced by the defendant continues. The government asked that the defendant’s sentence include counseling to help with his addiction of sniffing gasoline.

For the two stealing counts, the defendant was sentenced to 120 days in jail for each count; while the trespassing count got him 180 days in jail. The sentences are to be served concurrently, and Ah Siu’s 24 days of pre trial confinement is counted towards his jail term. He is also placed on two years probation.

Ah Siu also faces a probation violation charge at the High Court.

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