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Man who broke into his neighbor’s home is sentenced to probation

American Samoa High Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The 24-year-old man who was convicted of breaking into a house and stealing several items including clothes and shoes has been sentenced by District Court Judge Elvis P Patea to 120 days in jail as a condition of a 2-year probation term.

Asalele Suatia, who was released on a $300 cash bond, was originally charged with stealing and resisting arrest — both misdemeanors; however, under a plea agreement with the government, which was accepted by the court last week, Suatia pled guilty to stealing, a class A misdemeanor, punishable by a jail term of up to 12 months, a fine of up to $1,000  or both.

With his guilty plea, Suatia admits that on Dec. 4, 2018, with the intent to steal and without permission, he entered his neighbor's home with a machete in hand and stole clothes and two pair of shoes. He said he kept one pair of shoes while he gave the rest of the stolen items to his friend.

When given the chance to address the court last week, Suatia apologized for what he did and asked for a second chance so he can return home and care for his family. He said he’s truly remorseful for what he did.

Defense attorney Ryan Anderson asked the court for a probated sentence, saying his client is a first time offender and has taken full responsibility for his actions. The prosecutor echoed the defense’s submission, saying the defendant is a young man who made a careless mistake.

Suatia was sentenced to 2 years probation, subject to the condition that he serve 120 days in jail; however, he will credited for the 30 days he spent in jail before he posted bond. The remaining 90 days will be stayed until further order of the court.

The court has ordered Suatia to secure gainful employment to pay his $100 fine.