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Man accused of giving joints to high school students pleads — probation recommended

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — One of the three men arrested last year on allegations that he gave high school students 3 marijuana cigarettes has entered into a plea agreement with the government.

Lavea’i Otto was charged in two separate cases. In the first case, he was charged with one count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance (marijuana) with the intent to distribute, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not less than 5 years and not ore than 10 years, or a fine of not less than $5,000 and not more than $20,000; and one  count of endangering the welfare of a child, a class A misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment of up to one year, and a fine of up to $1,000 or both.

In the second case, Otto was charged with one count of escape from confinement, a class D felony.

Under a plea agreement with the government, Otto pled guilty to the amended charge of unlawful possession of a controlled substance (marijuana). With his guilty plea, Otto admits that on Feb. 25, 2018 he gave 3 marijuana cigarettes to a high school student to sell.

According to terms of the plea agreement, detectives of the DPS Vice & Narcotics Unit received a call from a staffer at Tafuna HS alleging that students were caught by the school counselor smoking marijuana on campus.

When questioned by detectives, one of the students said the marijuana came from a guy named “Spunky” who was later identified as Lavea’i Otto.

It took 2 weeks for police to locate the defendant. He fled from his home every time he saw police units heading towards his Nuuuli residence.

When questioned, Otto told police the marijuana cigarettes do not belong to him, it actually belonged to his friend, Lewis Lokeni.

The government is recommending probation for Otto.

Otto’s plea agreement was accepted by the court. The remaining charges were dismissed. He is scheduled for sentencing on May 31.

For now, he remains in custody, unable to post a $5,000 cash bond.


A man who was ordered by the court to pay restitution of $845.24 for the tools he stole from his neighbor, is asking the court to give him 6 months to pay it in full.

Allen Aunei appeared in court last week for an Order To Show Cause (OSC) hearing, for failing to comply with conditions of his 7-year probation which was handed down in 2014 after he was convicted of stealing.

As a condition of probation, Aunei was ordered to pay restitution, a fine of $1,000, secure gainful employment, and visit probation every month.

But Probation says Aunei has only paid $250 of his fine and $200 of the restitution.

Aunei told the court he didn't pay his fine and restitution in full because he was unable to secure gainful employment. He said he was hired by a local construction company in 2016, however, he was terminated 6 months later after the company owner found out he was convicted of stealing.

According to Aunei, he used some of the money he earned in that 6 months to pay part of his fine and restitution, and the rest went to feeding his family and his elderly mother, who passed away last year.

He begged the court to give him another 6 months to pay off the balance. He said he has a plantation and it's been 2 months since he started selling taro, banana, and vegetables at the market to earn money for his family and help pay his fine and restitution.

His attorney, Assistant Public Defender Rob McNeill said he has explained to his client the impact of not complying with the court’s order, and the consequences he may face if he doesn't do as he is told.

The court has granted Aunei’s request and given him 6 months to pay his outstanding fine and restitution.

Aunei was reminded that once the court revokes his probation, he will have no chance left but to serve the suspended period of imprisonment, which is 7 years.

Under a plea agreement, Aunei pled guilty to stealing, a class C felony, and the remaining charges of 1st degree burglary, trespass, and 3rd degree property damage were dismissed.

He was sentenced to 7 years and a fine of $1,000. But the execution of sentence was suspended and he was placed on probation for 7 years, subject to certain conditions.

He was ordered to serve 28 months; however, he only served 12 months and the balance of 16 months was suspended.

Aunei burglarized the home of his neighbor in Pava’ia’i. He damaged the back door, entered the home late at night, and stole several electric tools that were inside the garage.