Court Report

ausage@samoanews.com

OKERI POLEVIA —

A woman who is accused of stealing merchandise worth over $1,000 from a store was arrested by police two weeks ago.

Oketi Polevia is being charged with one count of stealing — a felony, punishable by not more than 7 years imprisonment, and/or a fine of not more that $5,000 or both.

The charge against Polevia stems from an incident that happened a few months ago, when she allegedly stole boxes of baby goods from the Vaiala Store and took them home.

During her hearing in District Court, Polevia waved her rights to a preliminary examination hearing on Friday, and her case is now bound over to the High Court for arraignment.

Polevia denied the single count against her, and her Pretrial Conference is scheduled for Dec. 29.

Her attorney, Ryan Nelson requested a reduction on her $5,000 bail that was set by District Court Judge Fiti Sunia. Nelson told the court that his client has a baby that needs to be breastfed.

He explained that since her arrest, unable to post bail, her husband takes the bus from their home to the Territorial Correctional Facility with the baby, leaving their minor children home alone — in order for the defendant to breastfeed the baby.

Nelson requested the court release his client on recognizance, so that she can continue to breastfeed her child and look after her other children at home, while her husband is looking for a job to take care of their family. He told the court that his client is not a flight risk, she has no intention to leave American Samoa, because she has a family to look after.

After reviewing the defense’s motions, Judge Sunia reduced Polevia’s bond at the amount of $2,500. If she can post her bond, the Court has ordered her to comply with all of the conditions of her release, especially the condition mohave no contact with government’s witnesses, including the owner and the employees of the store that was allegedly affected by her action.

SUAUUPAIA LUCIANO AMITUANA’I

A 26-year-old man who was accused for stealing money from a businessman by stealing his checks and forging his signature told the court that the accusations against him are all true.

Suauupaia Amituana’i was initially charged by the American Samoa government with two separate criminal cases.

In his first case, Amituana’i was charged with stealing, forgery and fraud — all felonies. Each count is punishable by not more than 7 years imprisonment, and/or a fine of not more than $5,000 or both. For his second case, he was charged with attempted stealing and resisting arrest — all felonies, and two misdemeanor charges of third degree assault.

However, under a plea agreement with the government, which was accepted by the Court last week, the defendant pled guilty to forgery, a class C felony, punishable by not more than 7 years imprisonment, and/or a fine of not more than $5,000 or both; and resisting arrest, a class D felony, punishable by not more than 5 years imprisonment, and/or a fine of not more than $5,000 or both.

During his guilty pleas, Amituana’i admitted to the Court that on or about May 28th, 2017 in American Samoa, he signed a check from the Gold Conda store in Fagaalu without the owner’s permission. The defendant further admitted that he forged the signature of Robert Lee, who is the owner of the Gold Conda store, on the check, and pretending that he was Lee, he cashed the check for his own personal used.

For the crime of resisting arrest, Amituana’i admitted to the Court that on or about July 11th, 2017 in American Samoa, when he knew that police were on their way to arrest him, he ran away from police by driving away in his vehicle at a high speed. Amituana’i further admitted that his vehicle almost collided with other vehicles and pedestrians, who were crossing the road at that time of the day.

The Court accepted Amituana’i guilty pleas; and was satisfied that the defendant’s guilty pleas were made upon receiving advice from his attorney. The Court also noted that there were actual facts to support the case against the defendant.

Amituana’i is now remanded back to custody to await his sentence, which is scheduled for Nov. 28th at 8:30 a.m.

Acting Associate Justice Elvis P. Patea, accompanied by Associate Judges Muasau Tasina Tofili and Satele Lili’o Satele presided during the hearing.

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