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Woman who steals & sells fine mat claims she was trying to feed her children

Outside of American Samoa High Court building.

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The woman accused of stealing a special fine mat (afuelo) — used to cover coffins —from another woman and then selling it to a Tongan man for $300 to buy food for her children, has pled guilty.

The government charged Sauleli’a, also known as Li’a Amituana’i in two separate criminal cases. In the first case, Amituana’i was charged with stealing and embezzlement, both class C felonies. In the second case, she was charged with attempted stealing, attempted fraud, and bribery of a public servant — all call D felonies.

Under a plea agreement with the government, Amituana’i pled guilty to an amended charge in the first case — stealing, a class A misdemeanor — and count 3 in the second case — bribery of a public servant.

With her guilty plea, Amituana’i, 32, admits that on July 17, 2017, she stole a special fine mat (afuelo) from another woman and then sold it to another woman for $300.

For the charge of bribery of a public servant, Amituana’i admits that on July 11, 2017, she offered $200 to an employee of the Office of the Motor Vehicles (OMV) in Tafuna in an effort to change the ownership of a vehicle for her own benefit.

Amituana’i further admits that she asked the OMV employee to change the ownership of said vehicle to her husband’s name.

Amituana’i remains in custody at the TCF, unable to post a $10,000 bond.

She is scheduled to appear in court June 19th for sentencing.


A man accused of using a machete to strike his nephew in the head has been convicted of second-degree assault, a class D felony.

Setefano Petelo, who is still in custody unable to post a $10,000 surety bond, appeared in High Court last week for a change of plea hearing.

He was initially charged with second-degree assault, a felony, and two misdemeanor charges — third degree assault and public peace disturbance. But under a plea agreement with the government, Petelo pled guilty to second-degree assault.

With his guilty plea, Petelo, 55, admits that on or about Jan. 30, 2018 he caused severe injuries to his nephew by striking his head with a machete. Petelo told the court it was his anger that caused him to injure his nephew.

Petelo is scheduled to appear in court on June 27th for sentencing.

Acting Public Defender Michael White is representing the defendant, while prosecuting the case is Assistant Attorney General Christy Dunn.


One of the two former Customs agents arrested in connection with a package that was sent through the Post Office last month in which marijuana was found, waived his right to a preliminary examination and his case was bound over to High Court for arraignment last Friday where he entered a plead of not guilty.

Logona Tigilau is being charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, unlawful possession of methamphetamine, and unlawful possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.

His pretrial conference is set for July 20th.

Tigilau, who is out on a $10,000 surety bond was ordered by the court to make sure he complies with all conditions of release, including the condition that he appear in court every time his case is called.