The case of the stolen jar of mayonnaise and the pot
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — “Get a job to pay your fine and don’t come back to court again. Don’t go to the house again and stay away from bad people.”
This was the strong message from Associate Justice Fiti Sunia to a 19-year-old man who appeared before the High Court yesterday for sentencing after being convicted of stealing and trespass.
Bradley Sagapolutele, who has been in custody since his arrest at the beginning of this year, unable to post a $5,000 surety bond, appeared in High Court yesterday morning for sentencing.
He was represented by Assistant Public Defender, Ryan Anderson while prosecuting the case was Assistant Attorney General Kristine Soule’.
Sagapolutele was initially charged with one count of 2nd degree burglary, a felony, along with one count of stealing, one count of trespass and one count of public peace disturbance, all misdemeanors.
However, under a plea agreement with the government, accepted by the High Court in July of this year, Sagapolutele pled guilty to stealing, a class C misdemeanor and trespass, a class B misdemeanor.
With his guilty plea, Sagapolutele admits that in March of this year, he entered a home unlawfully and stole items from inside.
Defense attorney Anderson asked the court to adopt the recommendation by Probation and sentence his client to a term of probation. Anderson said his client is a suitable candidate for a probated sentence, given the fact that he served 166 days while awaiting the outcome of his matter — which is more than the period of detention for the charges for which he’s being convicted.
The defense attorney further told the court that his office were unable to speak to the complaining witness regarding this matter, however, his client has taken full responsibility for what he did and learned his lesson while detained in custody for over 5 months.
Anderson said that he’s not sure if the court can order restitution for his client because nothing was given to him from the government regarding the issue of restitution.
Sunia interrupted and told Anderson that there will be restitution for the ‘mayonnaise’ that was stolen but not for the pot, because the pot was returned to the owner, according to report.
When given the chance to address the court, the defendant apologized for his action and begged for a second chance to return home to do something good with his life and for his family.
He told the court he has learned his lesson and he now realizes that breaking the law comes with consequences. He asked the court for a second chance to return home to start up his life and serve his family. He’s truly remorseful for his action and he’s also very sorry for what he did.
Prosecutor, Soule’ echoed Anderson’s submission for a probated sentence. She told the court that the defendant has served more than 90 days in custody.
According to the court, the circumstance of the matter is that the defendant entered unlawfully into a residence and took from that place a pot and mayonnaise without the owner’s permission.
According to the Pro-Sentence Report (PSR), the pot was returned to the owner but not the mayonnaise. The defendant had no prior record before the court proceedings yesterday. He now has a criminal record, according to Sunia.
Sunia said it appears from the report that the defendant had a normal upbringing and was well educated throughout his childhood. He was never involved with the law until the beginning of this year when he was arrested and charged with this matter.
The defendant is only 19 years old and Sunia advised him to find a job to pay his fine.
“The cannery is looking for people to hire,’’ Sunia told the defendant.
The court asked the defendant many questions in an effort to get a clear picture of him and his family. According to the defendant, his parents are living off-island with all of his siblings. He’s living with his aunty.
“You need to find a job to pay for your fine,” Sunia said again, adding that if the court has the authority to order the defendant to travel off island and be with his parents, the court will do that, unfortunately, the court can’t order him to travel.
“You’re barely an adult. You look like a minor and you live like a minor,” Sunia said.
Sunia also advised the defendant to keep in mind that violating conditions of his probation has a huge impact. He told the defendant that if he comes before the court again for another crime, the court will not hear his ‘sorry plea’.
He will send him to TCF (Territorial Correctional Facility) and the people inside there will hear his sorry plea.
For the crime of stealing, Sagapolutele was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 12 months. Execution of the sentence was suspended and the defendant was placed on probation for 12 months subject to several conditions.
He shall visit probation once a month and he shall stay away from the residence of the victims.
He shall serve 90 days at the TCF and he was credited for the 166 days he already served.
He shall pay a fine of $1,000 and he has 12 months to pay his fine.
Chief Associate Judge Mamea Sala Jr and Associate Judge Tunupopo Alalafaga Tunupopo assisted Sunia on the bench.
In March of this year, a woman contacted the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS) for assistance after somebody entered her home unlawfully and stole several items.
Several police officers responded to the call and later spoke with the reporter who identified herself as the victim in this case. After speaking to the victim, officers proceeded to the defendant’s residence and apprehended him and transported him to the TPS for further investigation.
During the interview with investigators, the defendant admitted entering the victim’s residence unlawfully and taking items from the residence.