Judge Patea sends clear message: appear in court or pay the price
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Six bench warrants were issued for five people who failed to appear in District Court Thursday morning.
Judge Elvis P. Patea was sending a clear message: Show up for court or get arrested and pay the fine.
First on the list was defendant Lefatia Ah Kiong, facing 14 traffic citations and four misdemeanor charges in two separate cases. He was released on his own recognizance for one case and for the other, he posted a $500 bond, which Judge Patea forfeited yesterday.
When asked about her client's whereabouts, Assistant Public Defender Anna Wells told the court that she was off island when Lefatia was released. Judge Patea then ordered a bench warrant to be issued, with bond set at $1,000.
A bench warrant was also issued yesterday for Katrina Tufele, who was scheduled for a pretrial conference. Bond has been set at $500. Tufele is charged with PPD for allegedly threatening to stab her sister and father with a knife late last year.
The court also ordered yesterday the issuance of two bench warrants for Etuale Tauialo, who is charged in two separate cases. He is out on $500 bond for each case and both bonds have been forfeited. Bond is now set at $1,000 for each case.
Bench warrants were also ordered for Tevaga Lagiselota and Sonnia Nansen, with bond set at $500 per person.
But the bench warrant for Nansen was recalled yesterday after she showed up late for court. A bench trial for her is scheduled for Feb. 19.