District Court denies motion to reduce bail for LE AUTE owner
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — District Court Judge Pro-Tem, Gwen Tauiliili-Langkilde denied a motion to reduce bail for the owner of the LE AUTE Sports Bar during a hearing yesterday morning.
Tumuatasi Lefatia, also known as “Mama” appeared in District Court yesterday morning for a hearing to determine whether she wished to exercise her constitutional right for a preliminary examination (PX) hearing. During the PX, the judge decides whether there is enough evidence to force the defendant to stand trial.
When Lefatia’s case was called, Uiagalelei informed the court that his client wished to go forward with her PX hearing, and asked it be set for Friday, Sept. 28, 2018.
Tauiliili-Langkilde granted the defense’s request and later scheduled Lefatia’s PX for Friday next week at 10:30 a.m.
On the issue of Lefatia’s bond, Uiagalelei requested his client’s bond be reduced from $100,000 to $50,000.
He told the court that after reviewing the arrest warrant, he feels that $50,000 is a reasonable amount to release his client from custody and prepare herself for trial.
He told the court that his client is a long-time resident of American Samoa and has strong family ties to her village, and is not a flight risk, given the fact that the government has already taken his client’s passport, so, there is no was his client can leave the territory. He noted that the government can also file a stop order against his client to make sure she does not leave American Samoa.
The defense attorney noted that his client is not a danger to the community.
Prosecutor Dunn strongly opposed the defense’s motion for bail reduction. She pointed out that given the nature of the charges against Lefatia, the government believes that $100,000 is a reasonable amount for the defendant.
Dunn further told the court that the defendant has violated conditions of her probation, and so, for the safety of the community, the bail amount the court has already set is a reasonable amount.
Uiagalelei fired back, saying that the government shouldn’t bring up the issue of probation, because the case before the court is a separate case. If the government feels that his client has violated conditions of her probation, they can file a motion to revoke her probation with the High Court.
“Based on the nature of this case, $50,000 is the reasonable bond amount for my client,” Uiagalelei said.
In delivering her decision, Tauiliili-Langkilde pointed to two things; not only has the court reviewed the defendant’s case file very carefully, but has also considered the fact that the defendant is also on probation from a previous matter.
“After reviewing these files, the court has decided that Mr. Uiagalelei, your motion is denied. Cash bond for this defendant remains at $100,000,” Tauiliili-Langkilde said.
Uiagalelei immediately asked the court whether bail for his client is cash or surety, Tauiliili-Langkilde responded that it was clear from the defendant’s initial appearance that bail is a cash bond.
Lefatia, who is remanded into custody until she posts her bond smiled after hearing the court’s decision on her motion.
Several family members including Lefatia’s aunty were present inside the courtroom during her hearing yesterday morning at 11a.m.
Lefatia was arrested and charged for unlawful possession of meth and marijuana, as a result of a raid early last week Wednesday morning conducted by armed detectives from the DPS Vice & Narcotics Unit, along with other police officers from various DPS divisions.
The owner of Le Aute is the only individual charged as a result of the police raid.
She is charged with 4 felony counts, including unlawful possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine; unlawful possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine with the intent to distribute; unlawful possession of a control substance, marijuana; and unlawful possession of a controlled substance, marijuana with the intent to distribute.