Revoking parole of overstayer would find TCF housing him for 34 years
Instead of revoking Joeita Fa’aaliga’s probation for not complying with court orders, the High Court during the defendant’s Deposition Hearing yesterday morning added another condition to the defendant’s probated sentence that was handed down in 2013.
And the added condition was, “upon release from detention, the defendant shall depart the territory of American Samoa immediately and remain outside of its borders for the period of probation.
However, since the 2013 sentence, the defendant was convicted of two additional crimes in 2016 and received straight sentences totaling 12 years.
Originally Fa’aaliga, was an overstayer who entered American Samoa on a 30-day permit back in Sept. 2012.
Appearing for the government was Assistant Attorney General Robert Morris, while Public Defendant Douglas Fiaui represented the defendant.
Fa’aaliga’s case was postponed from two weeks ago, after the court was unsatisfied with the answers the government and the Chief Immigration Officer, Peseta Dennis Fuimaono provided the court. The court wanted to see the original file that contained the defendant’s application form for his entry permit. The court also wanted to know who the defendant’s “real sponsor” was.
In that appearance two weeks ago, neither Morris nor Fuimaono provided the original file the court was asking for, and as a result, Chief Justioce Michael Kruse ordered both men to bring the original file to the court yesterday. At the time, Kruse not only raised his voice but he also told the government that “someone will go to jail or I will hold all of the Immigration Office in contempt” if the file wasn’t produced at yesterday’s hearing.
Kruse didn’t raise his voice yesterday, however, he wanted the Attorney General in court as well when the next phase of this matter is called so that the court could discuss more about the “collateral issues” involving the executive’s policies implementation.
In recap, Kruse said that on June 21, 2013, Fa’aaliga was convicted of first-degree burglary and second-degree burglary — both felonies, and he was ordered by the court to serve a 40-month detention, as a condition of a 7-year probation sentence.
While serving his detention, the government later discovered evidence of a prior burglary involving the defendant, resulting in the defendant subsequently being charged for it on March 08, 2014.
For this second case, Fa’aaliga was convicted of felony stealing, and was ordered to serve 28 months, as a condition of a 7-year probated sentence. The 28 months was to be served consecutively with his 40-month sentence.
And, then in 2016, Fa’aaliga was charged in two separate incidents while he was serving time in jail.
Court records show that the defendant escaped from jail on June 30, 2016 and made his way over to the American Samoa Power Authority (ASPA) main office in Tafuna at night, where he took a woman’s purse while she was sitting inside her vehicle. In this case, Fa’aaliga was convicted of escape from confinement and was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment, a straight sentence.
His second case — which also happened in 2016, occurred on June 19, where he broke into an Asian Store and stole $1,500.
In this case, the defendant was convicted of felony stealing and was sentenced to 7 years imprisonment, a straight sentence.
The defendant’s 12-year straight sentence from the two crimes he committed in 2016 was to be served consecutively with his 2013 sentence, from his first burglary case.
If the court revokes his probation, he’s looking at serving a total of 34 years behind bars.
“So the assignment we left you with was to give some thought to structuring an alternative to the option of having the government look after this 30-day overstayer for the next 34 years. I won’t be around by then I’m pretty sure,” said Kruse.
“For the collateral aspects involving executive policies implementation, which brought Mr. Fuimaono here to court, I will deal with it at a later time, but I would also like the AG to be here,” said Kruse. “I’m not going to rely on your call,” he said, pointing to the government attorney, Morris.
“We’ll handle the collateral issue at another time. Another thing, I ordered Immigration to go and dig out something from the container two weeks ago, and overruled Mr. Fuimaono’s request for more time, but we had an inconvenient hurricane and I can understand that there was no time to find things. So for that collateral matter, I will deal with it later on but I want the AG here,” said Kruse in a soft voice.
Samoa News understands that the file the court was asking for two weeks ago was brought to the court yesterday by the government.
Before the court delivered its decision, Fiaui asked the court to take no further action on the two first matters against his client nor revoke his probation, but allow him to continue on probation, and leave it to the parole board to decide on his parole.
Fiaui told the court that his client can apply to the parole board after he serves one-third of his sentence for the two matters for which he received straight sentences.