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Judge says repeat offender is running out of alternatives

American Samoa District Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 22-year-old man who is not new to the court system was given another chance by the court when he appeared before Judge Elvis P. Patea yesterday morning for a Disposition Hearing for failing to comply with conditions of his 2017 probation.

Tie Jeffrey Lomon, who has been in custody unable to post a $1,000 cash bond, was represented by Assistant Public Defender Rob McNeill,while prosecuting was Assistant Attorney General Laura Garvey.

Lomon apologized to the court for his actions and begged for another chance to go home to care for his mother and family. He said the time he spent in prison was good for him, because he learned a lot while sleeping on the cement floor every day and night.

“I’m truly remorseful for what I did and I know that I wasted many days of my life in prison because of my carelessness and disobedience. I've learned my lesson and I promise the court that if I get another chance, I will change my life and comply with all the conditions of my probation,” Lomon said.

When Patea asked what he had learned from prison. Lomon said he learned that breaking the law is not good and prison is not a good place to be.

McNeill asked for a probated sentence, saying Lomon is a young man who made a lot of mistakes. He asked the court not to revoke his client’s probation, but modify it so Lomon will have the chance to seek employment to pay his fine and restitution, which was ordered by the court when he was sentenced 2 years ago.

“I believe Lomon is a suitable candidate for a probated sentence,” McNeill said, adding that there is no need for further detention.

Prosecutor Garvey agreed.

Patea spoke about the defendant’s criminal history and said it wasn't good.

“In January of 2017, you were sentenced by this court to 5 years probation, subject to several conditions including monthly visits to Probation, paying your fine and restitution, and being a law abiding citizen. According to our records, you failed to comply with all of these conditions,” Patea told the defendant.

He reminded Lomon that one of the conditions of probation was to serve a period of 20 months detention at the TCF without any release. However, he was given a huge break when he was ordered to serve only 6 months, while the remaining 14 months was stayed, pending good behavior.

Seven months later, after he was released from custody, the defendant was in trouble with the law again, when he was arrested for disturbing the public peace. According to Patea, the defendant was drunk and acted violent in his village. He was convicted in District Court in Feb. 2018 for PPD, and sentenced to probation for 6 months.

“During your first revocation hearing, the court did not revoke your probation, but we granted you another chance to change your life and become a good youth. However, you ignored the chance we gave you after you were arrested on another PPD allegation one year after you were sentenced in District Court,” Patea continued.

According to Patea, the court received two Order to Show Cause (OSC) from Probation, asking to revoke the defendant’s probation. However, after reviewing all the facts of the case, Probation feels that Lomon deserves another chance so he can prove himself to the court, that he’s a changed young man.

“Today, you’re before this court for your Disposition Hearing for failure to comply with conditions of your probation. However, you also have 3 ongoing cases in District Court which are yet to be finalized.”

Patea stated that after reviewing the PSR, despite the fact that the defendant has multiple probation violations, probation is still opening the door for him to redeem himself.

“Don’t forget, you’re running out of alternatives, because the only alternative the court has for you is to revoke your probation and order you to serve the suspended imprisonment terms,” Patea told Lomon.

The court accepted the recommendation to modify conditions of the defendant’s probation, and ordered him to serve the suspended period of detention, which is 14 months. He will be credited for time served while awaiting his Disposition Hearing.

“This is your last chance from the court and you should thank Probation for trusting you and allowing you the opportunity to prove yourself. So, make use of this opportunity wisely; otherwise, there will be no more alternative for you”.