Court issues Order to Show Cause for AG Talauega and Immigration chief, Peseta
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Acting Associate Justice Elvis P. Patea has issued an Order to Show Cause (OSC) for Attorney General, Talauega Eleasalo Ale, along with Chief Immigration Officer, Peseta Dennis Fuimaono to appear in court for failure to comply with a court order.
The OSC was issued when the court did not receive a report from the Immigration Office regarding the immigration status of a man who appeared in court yesterday morning for sentencing.
Patea was highly irate when Chief Probation Officer Malcolm Polu informed the court that the Probation Office was unable to get a report from the Immigration Office, despite an order from the court requesting that Immigration provide the report.
Molieletise Salu was represented during yesterday's court proceedings by Public Defender Michael White, while prosecuting the case was Assistant Attorney General Laura Garvey.
When Salu’s case was called, Patea informed both attorneys that according to the Pre Sentence Report (PSR) prepared by the Probation Office, it seems that Immigration was unable to submit any report regarding the defendant’s immigration status.
Patea acknowledged that the Probation Office had already sent a request to the Immigration Office for the report, pursuant to an order from the court.
“This does not sit well with the court,” Patea said.
He then turned to the Chief Probation Officer, who was present in court, and asked him if he received any recent report from Immigration. Polu said, “no”.
“Alright, the court will issue an OSC for the Attorney General and the Chief of Immigration to appear in court. The court will determine why these two individuals will not be held in contempt of court for not complying with a court order,” Patea said.
He then continued the case for two weeks.
"And I want both individuals to be in court when this matter is called back before this panel," Patea said.
Salu’s sentencing is now scheduled for Dec. 13, 2018.
DEFENDANT’S IMMIGRATION STATUS
Salu, 42, was originally charged with one count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance, to wit; marijuana with the intent to distribute, a felony punishable by not less than five or more than ten years in jail, and a fine of not less than $5,000 or more than $20,000, or both.
However, in a plea agreement with the government last month, Salu pled guilty to unlawful possession of a controlled substance, to wit; marijuana with the intent to distribute.
With his guilty plea, Salu admits that on Nov. 12, 2017 he unlawfully distributed marijuana to another person, a student at one of the local high schools.
According to a verbal report received by the court, Salu has a P1 Immigration ID that expired last April. When the Probation Office sent a request for Salu’s Immigration file, the response from Immigration was, “they don’t have a file for Salu”.
The court wanted to know how Salu is able to hold a P1 Immigration ID when he has no file with the Immigration office.
According to the government’s case, detectives of the DPS Vice & Narcotics Unit received a call from a staffer at Fagaitua High School, alleging that students were caught by the school janitor smoking marijuana on campus.
Detectives met with the staff member, along with the students who were allegedly caught smoking “weed”.
When questioned by police, one of the students said the marijuana they smoked was from a guy named “Ruben Finau”.
The student claimed that Finau always gave him free weed in exchange for selling his marijuana to the public for $5 a joint. The same student told police that he also sells marijuana joints for another man named “Tee”.
When confronted by investigators, Finau said it was Salu who gave him the marijuana joints to give to one of the students.
Detectives were able to locate Salu and escorted him to the police station for questioning. Salu told police that the received marijuana from a man named Spunky. According to him, he sold marijuana joints to some of his friends, and gave some for free to one of the students.
Salu, who has been in custody since his arrest, unable to post a $5,000 cash bond is scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 13 for sentencing.