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Court Report

[SN file photo]
Translated by Samoa News staff


The man accused of pointing a small handgun towards other men will be sentenced next month after he pled guilty to unlawful possession of an unlicensed firearm.

Under the plea agreement with the government and accepted by the High Court last Friday, 49-year old Letalitonu Alofaituli admitted that on Sept. 17, 2016 in Pavaiai he was in possession of an unlicensed firearm, which he pointed at another person, who he believed damaged his vehicle.

Court information states that when the defendant found that his car had been damaged, he went to a bus stop to talk to some men sitting there, but when no one responded to his questions, the defendant pointed a small handgun at them.

Chief Justice Michael Kruse says pointing a small handgun towards others is a Class D felony and he ordered the government to bring the small handgun to court on Feb. 17, which is the sentencing hearing for the defendant. 

Kruse also ordered the Probation Officer to provide a pre sentence report on this case.


The High Court last Friday sentenced Tie Jeffrey Lomon to serve 6 months at the Territorial Correctional Facility after being convicted of felony stealing, under a plea agreement with the government.

During sentencing, the 20-year old apologized for his crime and sought leniency in sentencing. Both the government and defense also sought leniency giving the young man a chance to change his life around. They requested that as part of sentencing to order the defendant to attend and complete alcoholic counseling

Assistant attorney general Gerald Murphy informed the court that alcohol was a major contributing factor to the defendant’s criminal behavior.

The court sentenced the defendant to 20 months imprisonment, but 14-months were waived under several conditions, including that he is placed on five years probation, prohibited from consuming alcohol, subject to random alcohol and drug testing, and must attend as well as complete alcoholic counseling.


Sentencing for 19-year old Matthew Barja has been continued by the High Court after the judges were not satisfied with information it had requested from the government.

Barja was in court three weeks ago for sentencing, which was then continued to last week Friday based on information in the pre sentencing report, regarding the two juveniles who were involved with the defendant for the break-in at Tafuna High School.

The defendant admitted under a plea agreement that between Nov. 30 to Dec. 7 and 8, in 2015, as well as Jan. 1 and 2, 2016, he and two juveniles broke into Tafuna High School and stole school property such as a bag, which contained iPads, as well as a laptop that was inside the JROTC office. He also admitted that he took seven iPads that were turned over to police.

During sentencing hearing three-weeks ago, Chief Justice Michael Kruse questioned the government as to what happen to the two Samoan juveniles involved in the break in and the government said that case was in District Court.

However, when the case was called last Friday, the government was unable to provide proof that there is a case against the juveniles pending in District Court. And while Barja told the court that the seven iPads he took were returned to police, only six were presented to the court as evidence. Other properties that were stolen by Barja were also presented to the court.

Assistant attorney general Gerald Murphy told the court he’s not sure as to why it was taking so long to file charges against the juveniles, who have told police that this is not the first time they have broken into Tafuna High School.

The court is concerned that Barja, who is of Philippine ancestry, faces the more serious charges, while it appears that no charges have been filed against the two Samoan juveniles and therefore questions will be raised later as to why the juveniles were not charged. Barja’s parents are from the Philippines, while he was born in American Samoa.

The court continued sentencing to Friday for Barja, who remains in custody.


The High Court plans to render a decision early next month regarding Viliamu Otto, who was found early this week to have violated conditions of his five-year probation.

Among the conditions of probation when Otto was sentenced after being convicted of second degree assault, is that he is prohibited from consuming illegal drugs, must pay a fine of $1,000, pay $430 restitution to the victim of his crime and visit the Probation Office every month.

But a Probation Office report presented to the court shows that the defendant has not paid either the fine or restitution, and he didn’t visit the Probation Office throughout 2016. However, he was taken into custody late last month for probation violation, because a drug test came back positive.