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Man convicted of stealing ordered to pay fine, placed on probation

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 42-year-old man who was convicted of stealing, and later selling a tool box containing tools belonging to a mechanic, has been ordered to pay a $1,000 fine as a condition of his 7-year probation sentence.

Onosa’i Latu was convicted of stealing, a felony punishable by 7 years imprisonment, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

During sentencing, Latu apologized to the court for what he did and asked for a second chance to return home to his family. He also apologized to the company that was affected by his actions and promised the court he will never do it again.

His attorney, Public Defender Michael White and prosecutor, Deputy Attorney General Laura Garvey asked the court for a probated sentence, without any jail time.

Garvey said the defendant stole the toolbox and then sold it to a third party who has since returned the toolbox to its owner, and the defendant has already paid back to the third party the money he received for the sale of the toolbox.

Acting Associate Justice Elvis P. Patea told Latu that in the year since this matter has been dragging on, it has presented unusual circumstances.

Patea said the court normally goes straight to sentencing after a 'change of plea' within a month; but in this case, the one-year period during which the case has been stalled, has been to his advantage because it has given the court the opportunity to see his behavior in public, and he has done well, which tells the court he is someone who'll do well on probation.

The court sentenced Latu to 7 years probation, under the condition that he serves 28 months in jail. The defendant was credited for the 83 days he served in prison, and the balance of his detention term is stayed, as long as he complies with all conditions of probation.

He is also ordered to pay a $1,000 fine within 6 months, and he is not to make contact with the company that was affected by his actions.

He is to remain a law-abiding citizen, and report to the Probation Office whenever he is ordered to do so.