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Court orders immediate departure of overstayer convicted of meth possession

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 39-year-old man from Samoa who was convicted of unlawful possession of meth has been ordered to depart the territory and remain outside of its borders as a condition of his 5-year probation term.

Lafaele Anetone, who has been in custody since his arrest last year, unable to post a $5,000 bond, appeared in High Court last week for sentencing. He was represented by Assistant Public Defender Rob McNeill, while prosecuting was Assistant Attorney General Laura Garvey.

When given the chance to speak, Anetone apologized and asked for a chance to return to Samoa, so he can care for his parents and use his life to serve his church, family, and village. He told the court that the many months he spent in jail has taught him a lesson; and that is, drugs are not good for him.

McNeill asked the court to accept the recommendation in the Pre Sentence Report (PSR) prepared by Probation, and sentence his client to a probated sentence under the condition that he depart the territory.

McNeill reminded the court that his client’s previous conviction 9 years ago is separate from the current case. Anetone was here illegally when he was arrested last year, after being found with a glass pipe containing meth.

According to Immigration, Anetone entered the territory on a 30-day permit, but continued to live here as an overstayer - for 2 months - before he was arrested.

According to the court, Anetone was out partying with friends and later took a taxi home. When the taxi arrived at Anetone’s residence, the driver found him sleeping in the back seat, heavily intoxicated. The taxi driver tried to wake Anetone but the defendant did not budge. The driver then drove to the Tafuna Substation and dropped Anetone off there, for safety reasons.

Anetone continued to sleep at the Tafuna Substation. When he finally woke up the next morning, and realized where he was, he started to act violently - punching holes in the walls of the conference room.

Police were able to subdue him and a body search netted a glass pipe containing meth inside Anetone’s pants pocket. Police also searched Anetone’s black bag and discovered 2 stamp sized-baggies containing meth.

When asked about the glass pipe and the baggies containing meth, Anetone told police it was a gift from his friend in Petesa for plumbing work he did at his house.

Anetone was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment and a $5,000 fine. Execution of sentence is suspended and he is placed on probation for 5 years, subject to certain conditions. He has to spend 20 months at the TCF, with credit for time served.

The remaining period of detention is stayed, and Anetone is ordered to depart the territory and remain outside of its borders for the duration of probation. A copy of the court’s judgment and sentence is to be served to the Immigration Office and Board, to ensure Anetone’s name is included on the lookout list.


In 2010, Anetone was convicted of conspiracy of commit burglary and receiving stolen property, both class C felonies, punishable by up to 7 years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000 or both. For each count, Anetone was ordered to serve 28 months detention, meaning he had to spend 56 months at the TCF, as a condition of his 7-year probation, which ended in 2017.