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COURT REPORT: 3 year overstayer now married to an American Samoan

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 29-year-old man who entered American Samoa on a 30-day permit 3 years ago appeared in District Court earlier this month for his initial appearance.

According to the court affidavit, Matulino Fonofaavae came to American Samoa on Oct. 30, 2017 and continued to stay in the territory without any legal documentation. He’s now married to an American Samoan woman.

District Court Judge Elvis P. Patea wanted to know more about Fonofaavae’s case. The Immigration officer who was in court last week explained that Fonofaavae’s spouse has already filed a petition with the Immigration Board to transfer his sponsorship to her, and the Board needs to revisit Fonofaavae’s petition.

“How can this thing happen? Someone who came to our territory 3 years ago on a 30-day permit and continued to stay on island illegally but now he can file a petition to the Board asking for legal immigration status?” the court asked the Immigration officer who had no response.

“Is this an Immigration lapse?” The immigration officer said, “yes”.

The court wants to know how people with illegal immigration status for many years can file a petition to the Board to renew their status.

He then ordered Fonofaavae to be remanded to custody without bail until his next court hearing, which is May 12, 2020.

Fonofaavae was arrested on the allegation that he was engaged in a fight while intoxicated. He immediately fled the scene when police units arrived. However, he was apprehended a few moments later when people of the village stopped him from running away from cops.


A 39-year-old man, who was convicted of stealing from his employer, and later selling some of the power tools he stole, has been ordered to pay a $2,000 fine as a condition of his 7-year probation sentence.

Vani Folasa was convicted of stealing, a felony punishable by 7 years imprisonment, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

During sentencing, Folasa apologized to the court for what he did and asked for a second chance to return home to his family. He also apologized to his former employer that was affected by his actions and promised the court he will never do it again.

Attorneys for both sides asked the court for a probated sentence, without any jail time.

The government’s attorney said the defendant stole several power tools from his employer’s company, and then sold them to another man who worked for the same company. When the company was looking for these items, the man who received the stolen items returned all of the tools to the owner.

The government told the court that the defendant is a suitable candidate for a probated sentence without any additional period of detention.

The court told Folasa that what he did was serious, but lucky, there was a Good Samaritan who returned the stolen items to the company.  As a result, the court will not order any amount of restitution for the items he stole.

The court sentenced Folasa to 7 years probation, under the condition that he serve 28 months in jail. The defendant was credited for the 152 days he served in prison, and the balance of his detention term was stayed, as long as he complies with all conditions of probation.

He is also ordered to pay a $2,000 fine within 12 months, and he is not to make contact with the company that was affected by his actions.

He is to remain a law-abiding citizen, and report to the Probation Office whenever he is ordered to do so.