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Some Manu'a residents unhappy with Gov's choice to head Ta'u offices

Some Manu’a residents have voiced their displeasure over the hiring of CCCAS Reverend Ali’ioaiga Filioali’i, to head the Government Office in Ta’u Manu’a, given he has a criminal record. Filioali’i is currently on probation for two years, following a traffic accident, which led to the death of a 12-year old girl in September 2010.


Comments from the Manu’a residents range from one man saying there are qualified people living in Ta’u who have clean records that can oversee the government offices, to an elderly woman telling Samoa News that although Ali’ioaiga was not jailed, he entered a guilty plea in this matter, which is a serious matter.  


Repeated efforts to obtain comments from Ali’ioaiga since the weekend have been unsuccessful. Questions have also been sent to the Governor’s office for comment, but those questions were not answered as of press time.


Last week Governor Lolo M. Moliga appointed Rev Filioali’i to oversee all the government offices in Ta’u, Manu’a, and the reverend works at the Governor’s Office in Ta’u.


One of the cornerstones of the Lolo Administration has been background checks of director-appointees and others hired to work in the government as a matter of due diligence.


Samoa News should point out that Rev. Filioali’i is not a convicted felony. In February of this year, he pled no contest to the amended charge of reckless driving causing bodily injury, a misdemeanor — which carries a jail term of up to one year, a fine of up to $1,000 or both; the charge was amended from vehicular homicide, a felony charge.


During sentencing, Chief Justice Michael Kruse fined Ali’ioaiga $1,000 and placed him on two years probation. He also suspended his driver’s license for six months.


At the time of sentencing the Chief Justice said the explanation from the government for the plea deal to the defendant was that it would be hard for the government to take this case to trial. 


Kruse said that some suggestions have it the victim walked into the oncoming vehicle, while other witnesses state the defendant was driving over the speed limit.


According to the plea agreement, upon the defendant’s plea of no contest to the misdemeanor charge, he admits that on or about September 19, 2010 he operated a vehicle which struck a pedestrian who sustained injuries that led to her death.


The Chief Justice noted that the defendant’s plea of no contest is treated as a guilty plea during sentencing. 


During sentencing hearing, Ali’ioaiga’s attorney at the time, Fiti Sunia pleaded with the court to fine his client $1,000, with no jail time. “My client is a responsible person who clearly understands the seriousness of the situation,” said Sunia.


Sunia added that a jail term for deterrence is not necessary for Reverend Filioali’i, given the life he lives as a church minister. Sunia told the court that a traditional ifoga was carried out and was accepted by the young girl’s family. He said Reverend Filioali’i has served the community for a very long time. 


The prosecutor, former Assistant Attorney General Cable Poag, asked the court to place the defendant on probation for two years, suspend his driving privileges and have him do community service.


According to the government’s case Reverend Filioali’i was the driver of an F-150 pick-up truck that struck the victim who was on the sidewalk with her friend, walking along the Faleniu public highway on September 19, 2010. According to court filings, the truck was traveling at a high rate of speed, and the victim was rushed to LBJ, where she slipped into a coma and died 11 days later.