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Man with two identities back in court

District Court Judge Fiti Sunia

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA —  The case of another male from Samoa with two different names was heard in District Court last week.

Pelesasa Faalemiga appeared in court last Friday pursuant to a bench warrant that was signed and issued by Judge Fiti Sunia, when Faalemiga failed to appear multiple times when his case was called in court.

Faalemiga is represented by Assistant Public Defender, Ryan Anderson while Assistant Attorney General, Laura Garvey is prosecuting the case.

According to court information, Faalemiga was last present in court Oct. 2017, and that’s why the court issued a warrant for his arrest. During his initial appearance last year, he was released on his own recognizance, subject to conditions that included making all of his court appearances and not leaving or attempting to leave the territory without the court's permission.

When Faalemiga’s case was called, the court was able to hear some interesting information regarding his immigration status from an immigration officer who provides to the court information regarding foreigners who have problems with the law.

According to the information, the defendant’s real name is Ripine Fa’alemiga, and he entered the territory on a 30-day permit this month. According to the defendant’s movement file with the immigration office, the defendant was able to enter American Samoa twice this year on a 30-day permit. His first entrance was in March and again this month.

Sunia’s demeanor changed after hearing the immigration report. He then turned to the defendant and his attorney and said, “The defendant was ordered not to leave or attempt to leave the territory, isn’t that true Mr. Anderson?”

The defense attorney responded, “That is correct your honor and I think it’s a misunderstanding between my client and the court order.”

Sunia fired back and said, “No, no, no. It's not a misunderstanding. He knew he was not supposed to leave the territory.”

Sunia looked at his notes and said, “According to my notes, the defendant only appeared in court twice, it was during his initial appearance and then his first pretrial conference in Oct, 2017, and that was it. The court then issued a bench warrant for his arrest.”

Sunia turned to the immigration officer and asked, what is the defendant’s real name on his passport? The immigration officer said, "Ripine Faalemiga", the same name that appears on his file in the immigration system.

According to the immigration officer, Faalemiga entered the territory at the beginning of this month on a 30-day permit. His sponsor is a person by the name of Joy Simi. The immigration officer also informed the court that it is believed the defendant has a wife and children on island.

In court files, the defendant is known as Pelesasa Fa’alemiga, not by name he entered American Samoa under — Ripine Faalemiga.

“What does the defendant’s passport say?” Sunia asked the immigration officer. The officer stated that according to the passport, the defendant entered the territory twice this year.

Sunia shook his head and said, “That means he doesn’t care.”

Sunia then established a $500 bond to release Faalemiga, subject to the condition that he make all his court appearances and he is not to leave or attempt to leave the territory while his case is pending.

“If you post your $500 bond, make sure, do not leave the territory until further notice from the court. If you violate these conditions, the court will order that you will be kept in prison without bond until your case is resolved,” Sunia concluded.

Faalemiga is scheduled to appear in court Sept. 5, 2018 for his next pretrial conference. He’s being charged for disturbing the peace (PPD) last year.