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Court orders deportation for overstayer convicted in drug case

American Samoa High Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — An overstayer from Samoa, convicted of unlawful possession of illegal drugs, was ordered to depart the territory, and remain outside of its borders for the duration of his 5-year probation term.

Soo Savelio, who has been in custody since his arrest last year due to his illegal immigration status, appeared in High Court last week for sentencing.

Savelio was initially charged with unlawful possession of methamphetamine; and unlawful possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute. But under a plea agreement with the government, he pled guilty to the lesser amended charge — a class D felony punishable by up to 5 years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000 or both. The remaining charge was dismissed.

Savelio admits that on Nov. 1, 2018 he unlawfully possessed 4 small stamp sized baggies containing meth.

He apologized to the court and begged for a chance to return to Samoa to care for his parents and find a job to help his family. Savelio said it wasn't his intention to break the law; however, things changed when he started hanging out with friends involved with drugs.

He said he’s truly remorseful and wants to change his life.

Both attorneys asked for a probated sentence, with the condition that Savelio depart the territory and remain outside of its borders for the duration of probation.

Savelio was sentenced to 5 years in jail and fined $5,000

Execution of the sentence is suspended and he is placed on 5 years probation on the condition that he serve 20 months at the TCF.

Savelio will serve 6 months, with credit for time served. The balance is stayed and he is to depart the territory immediately and remain outside of its borders for 5 years.

His family has already paid for his ticket to Samoa.

Chief Justice Michael Kruse ordered that a copy of the court’s judgment be forwarded to Immigration to ensure that Savelio’s name is on the lookout list.