Sponsor of Fijian convicted of stealing fails to appear for OSC
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Acting Associate Justice Elvis P. Patea has issued a bench warrant for an Asian business man for failure to comply with a court order. The businessman, Mr. Kim, is believed to be the sponsor of a Fijian man, who is jailed at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF).
The Fijian national, Rusiate Tabete was present in court when the Order to Show Cause (OSC) case was called.
Acting Public Defender Michael White appeared on behalf of Tabete while Assistant Attorney General Christy Dunn represented the government.
When the matter was called, Patea informed both attorneys that the purpose of the OSC hearing was specifically for the defendant’s sponsor, Mr. Kim — for failure to pay the full amount of the fine the court ordered him to pay within 30 days from the date the decision was made.
“Mr. Kim was served on June 19 by the Chief of Probation with the copy of the OSC, and notified about the hearing this morning (yesterday morning) at 9 a.m. Now, it’s 9:04 and Mr. Kim has failed to appear. The court is now issuing a bench warrant to arrest Mr. Kim, and he will be held in custody without bail. It’s now a contempt of court hearing,” Patea told both attorneys.
Tabete is currently serving a period of detention of 12 months at TCF, as a condition of his 7-year probation, after being convicted by the court on 3 counts of 2nd degree burglary.
Other conditions of Tabete’s probation was that he has to pay a fine of $3,000, however, Patea ordered that Tabete’s sponsor, who is Mr. Kim, the owner of Manuia Fisheries, has to pay the fine in 30 days from the date the order was made, which was in May of this year.
It was in May of this year, Samoa News interviewed Mr. Kim at his office in Tafuna. Mr. Kim as the sponsor/ owner of the fishing boat, said Tabete was hired on as a crew member, and told Samoa News that he had failed to fulfill his responsibility as the sponsor of Tabete, by not informing the Immigration Office that Tabete no longer worked for him. (See story in May 29, 2018 issue for details of interview.)
As a result of his failure, he said he agreed to pay Tabete’s fine and confirmed to Samoa News that he had already paid the $3,000 to the High Court on the third week of May of this year, after the Chief Probation Officer (CPO) informed him about the court’s decision.
He also told Samoa News that he would also pay for Tabete’s return airfare to Fiji when he’s released from TCF.
Kim further told Samoa News that Tabete was one of the five crew members, who worked for his fishing boat called, INJA, a longliner that is still docked at the Malaloa Marina Dock. Last year when fishing was bad, Kim made a decision to stop his boat from going out fishing; waiting until the fishing was good again.
Samoa News was unable to confirm whether or not the fine was paid at the time of the interview.
Rusiate Tabete, a Fijian national and an over stayer, entered American Samoa in 2015 to work as a crew member on a fishing boat.
He appeared in High Court in May for sentencing, after he was convicted of stealing items from the Faleniu store where he worked last year.
Under a plea agreement with the government, Tabete pled guilty to 3 counts of 2nd degree burglary.
Tabete admitted that on Nov. 11, 2017, Dec. 2 and 7, 2017 he unlawfully entered a Faleniu store and stole merchandise and cash.
During sentencing, he told the court he was employed by Island Technologies and the company paid him $60 a week.
He said the money he received was not enough to take care of his family in Fiji and that’s the reason why he stole, because the owner betrayed him so many times, not only was he underpaid, but he was lied to when the company said it would fix his immigration status.
His attorney Michael White told the court his client was under the impression the company he worked for would fix his immigration papers. And when he found out nothing was being done, he tried to do something that would give him the chance to return home.
“Nobody wants to get caught when they steal from somebody else, but my client stole from his employer because he wanted to get caught, so he’d get a chance to go back to his family in Fiji,” White told the court
In an interview with Samoa News in May of this year, a representative from Island Technologies Inc. in Faleniu denied reports that they employed an over stayer from Fiji last year and underpaid him ($60 a week).
According to a representative, their company never hired Rusiate Tabete nor did they pay him the amount he claims they did.
She explained to Samoa News that the company knew Tabete was an over stayer and didn't have the proper immigration papers but out of love, the company agreed to let him do casual work for 2 hours a day, 2-3 days a week, and they would compensate him.
According to the representative, the company owner and his family are also Fiji nationals.