Overstayers appear in District Court for PPDs
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Three overstayers — all young men who came into American Samoa on 30-day permits — appeared in District Court on allegations of disturbing the public peace by engaging in fights and making unreasonable noises while they were under the influence of alcohol. Moreover, two of them have family here in the territory with young children.
Two of them appeared in court last week for their initial appearances while the third appeared in court yesterday morning.
The three men, Siaosi Taiao, Alfred Leleiga and Tasi Alega, are being charged with 2 counts each of public peace disturbance (PPD) and 3rd degree assault.
TAIAO AND LELEIGA CASES
Taiao and Leleiga appeared in court last week for sentencing. They pled guilty to PPD, a class B misdemeanor, punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to 6 months, and a fine of up to $500, or both. The assault charge was dismissed.
Both men were arrested by police on May 18 from Leone, for making unreasonable noises and fighting on the street while they were under the influence of alcohol.
According to a report from the Immigration office, Taiao entered American Samoa in Feb. 2017 on a 30-day permit and never returned to Samoa. For Leleiga, he entered the territory in March 2016 on a 30-day permit and continued to remain in the territory illegally.
Defense attorney, Ryan Anderson asked for a probated sentence of 24 months, with the condition that both men must depart the territory and not come back during the time of their probation.
District Court Judge Fiti Sunia sentenced Taiaso and Leleiga to a term of probation of 24 months under certain conditions. Both of them will serve a period of detention of 90 days without being released from prison. They will be credited for the 41 days they have served while awaiting the result of their cases.
However, the court suspended the execution of the balance of detention, and both defendants are to depart the territory immediately and remain outside of its borders for the probation period.
Sunia ordered that sponsors for both defendants pay their fine of $100 each.
“What is the cost to house each defendant at TCF per day,” Sunia asked the government attorney. Bianca responded that she does not have an answer for the court’s question.
Sunia stated that there should be a cost per day to host an inmate in prison.
“The sponsor should pay for the cost per day for each defendant. There is no way we can use my tax money and your tax money to feed these inmates. Do we have a cost?” Sunia asked the government again.
“Let me find out from TCF,” Bianca said.
Sunia then turned to the defendant Taiao and asked him, “Who is your sponsor.” Taiao said his sponsor is Ioana Vitale.
“Do you stay with your sponsor?” Sunia asked Taiao. He replied, “No, I stay with my girlfriend in Leone.”
Sunia wanted to know more about the defendant and his sponsor.
“Do you know this person Ioana Vitale,” Sunia asked Taiao. The defendant’s response was, “No, I don’t know her but I understand she lived in Leone.”
“Who is Vitale,” Sunia asked Taiao again. The defendant was silent for a moment, before he answered and said, “Ioana Viatele is my wife.”
Sunia appeared frustrated and told Taiao, “This particular Judge does not like people who come to his court and lie. So, where is your wife?” Taiao said he does not know where his wife is because he’s not living with her anymore. He is living with his girlfriend.
Sunia then informed the government attorney to make sure the sponsors for each defendant are notified about the fine, and the defendants must depart the territory once their return tickets are paid by their sponsors.
Alega was arrested by police on Wednesday, July 4 for disturbing the peace in Pago Pago village, while he was under the influence of alcohol. Alega denied the charges against him when he appeared in court yesterday for his initial appearance.
The government claimed that Alega acted violently by yelling profanities and ended up assaulting another young man who was also part of their drinking group. His actions alarmed neighbors in the area and police were called for assistance.
According to Immigration records, Alega entered the territory in Apr. 15, 2016 on a 30-day permit and never returned to Samoa. According to the Financial Statement form the defendant filled out in court, he is married to a US National and has two children.
Due to his illegal immigration status, Sunia denied Alega’s attorney’s motion to release Alega on his own recognizance, but he remanded him to custody without bail, to await his next court appearance, which is July 19.