Court Report

reporters@samoanews.com

LEUPENA ITELE

The High Court has taken under advisement a plea agreement between the government and Leupena Itele, who is scheduled to return to court in July, at which time there is hope that the court has reached a decision on the plea.

Itele was initially charged with one count each of second degree burglary and stealing — both felonies — but under the plea agreement, the defendant pleads guilty to stealing. If the court accepts the plea agreement, the government will move to dismiss the burglary charge.

For the guilty plea, the defendant admitted that in the evening of Dec. 16 of last year, he allegedly broke into a home and stole $5,000 cash. However, in the plea agreement — which was read in court recently during a change of plea hearing — the defendant objects to provision of the agreement that he stole $5,000.

The agreement also states that the defendant broke into the home of his sponsor on another night last December and stole more than $100 in cash. The defendant remains in custody.

Felony stealing is punishable by not more than 7 years imprisonment, or a fine of not more than $5,000 and/or both.

FA’ASI’I AUPAAU

Sentencing of defendant Fa’asi’i Aupaau in the High Court is set for later part of July this year, after he pled guilty, under a plea agreement with the government, to felony stealing.

Aupaau was initially charged with the more serious felony of first degree robbery, but under the plea agreement, read in court during a recent change of plea hearing, the government amended the robbery charge down to felony stealing.

For his guilty plea under the amended charge, the defendant admitted that sometime in the evening hours of Dec. 13 last year, he and co-defendant David Fo’a went to a store in Malaeimi with the intent of robbing the business establishment. In fact, according to the plea agreement, the pair took $260 cash, with Fo’a threatening the cashier with a gun while Aupaau took off with the cash register containing the cash.

Provisions of the plea agreement, which has been accepted by the court, requires Aupaau to cooperate with the government as well as provide truthful testimonies against Fo’a, who is not only charged with the Malaeimi store robbery, but is accused of breaking in to 8 other stores.

Felony stealing is punishable by not more than 7 years imprisonment, or a fine of not more than $5,000 and/or both. Aupaau remains in custody.

The government’s case against Fo’a is pending in High Court, which has set a pre trial conference hearing in July this year.

According to court information, the defendant is facing nine counts of first degree burglary, five counts of stealing — all felonies — and two counts of third degree property damage, both misdemeanors.  Fo’a remains in custody.

Much of the goods and merchandise the defendant allegedly stole from the stores he broke in to has been returned to the police. Of the cash he allegedly stole, the defendant told police that he already spent the money.

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