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Another marijuana charge after pot allegedly found in Pavaiai

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 48-year-old farmer from Samoa convicted of drug possession has been sentenced to probation and ordered to depart the territory after serving 12 months of his 5-year sentence.

Masi Fialata appeared in court last week for sentencing.

He was initially charged with unlawful possession of marijuana; however, under a plea agreement with the government, accepted by the court, Fialata pled guilty to an amended charge of unlawful possession of a controlled substance (marijuana), a class D felony.

Fialata admits that he had marijuana at his plantation in Pavaiai when police searched his home.

During sentencing Fialata apologized for breaking the law. He said the 8 months he’s spent in jail have taught him a lesson.

He said using drugs is not only illegal, it’s also not good for a person like him — who came to the territory in search of a good future for his family.

He begged the court for another chance so he can return home to find another job so he can care for his elderly parents, who depend on him financially. “I come from a poor family who only depend on a plantation to survive. I came here to earn a good living for my parents, but it’s sad to see how things ended up like this. What I did was wrong, and I assure the court that if I am given another chance, I will never be in this courtroom again,” said Fialata.

Both parties asked for a probated sentence, under the condition that Fialata depart the territory and remain outside of its borders for the duration of probation, due to his illegal immigration status.

The court sentenced Fialata to 5 years at the TCF, and a $5,000 fine. Execution of sentence is suspended and he was placed on probation for the duration of detention under certain conditions.

Fialata is to serve 12 months, and the balance is stayed on the condition that he depart the territory and remain outside of its borders for the duration of probation. He is credited with the 8 months he has served in pretrial confinement. However, the condition to depart the territory will be stayed, subject to a special condition that the defendant comply all of the conditions of his probation.

The court reminded Fialata that if he violates any of the conditions of his probation, there will be no more second chance for him. Not only will he will serve the remaining period of detention but he will also be ordered to depart the territory.