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COURT REPORT: Man tells the court his wife started the fight

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The 45-year-old man who was convicted of assaulting his wife while he was extremely intoxicated told the court that she was the one who started the fight, which landed him a 3-night stay at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF).

The defendant was initially charged with third degree assault, public peace disturbance, and endangering the welfare of a child, all misdemeanors. However under a plea agreement with the government, the defendant pled guilty to third degree assault, and the remaining charges were dismissed.

With his guilty plea, the defendant admits that on the night of the incident in Oct. 14, 2019, he assaulted his wife while intoxicated, by punching her in the face multiple times, pulling her hair, and kicking her in the back. The defendant further admits that his actions injured his wife.

When given the chance to address the court, the defendant apologized and asked for a second chance to continue to care for his wife and young children. He apologized to his wife and children and promised that this will not happen again. He did tell the court that it was his wife who started the fight.

The wife and one of their young children were in court during the defendant’s sentencing.

Attorneys from both sides recommended probation for 12 months.

District Court Judge Elvis P. Patea accepted the defendant’s apology and placed him on probation for 12 months under certain conditions.

The defendant is ordered to be drug and alcohol free, and he has to submit to random testing. He also must refrain from harassing or threatening his wife and children and remain law abiding.

Furthermore, he is ordered to attend and complete an anger management counseling class, seek gainful employment and pay a $110 fine.


A man from Samoa accused of violating local drug laws when he brought a small quantity of marijuana inside his luggage as he entered American Samoa has admitted to his wrongdoing.

Kereti Tafea was initially charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance (marijuana), a class D felony; and an attempt to import a controlled substance into the territory, a class A misdemeanor.

Under a plea agreement with the government this week, Tafea pled guilty to the amended charge of unlawful possession of a controlled substance (marijuana). The remaining charge was dismissed.

With his guilty plea, Tafea admits that in Nov. 11, 2018, he had in his possession a small stamp-sized baggie containing a small quantity of marijuana inside his luggage when he arrived at the Pago Pago International Airport.

As part of the plea agreement, the government is asking the court to sentence Tafea to 5 years probation, without any jail time at the TCF.

The court has accepted the defendant’s guilty plea, and sentencing is set for June 5, 2020.


Tafea was arrested after a Customs agent at the airport, during a routine search at the arrival terminal, found a small stamp-sized baggie with marijuana inside Tafea’s luggage.

On Nov. 19, 2018, Tafea waived his right to a preliminary examination and his case was bound over to High Court. He appeared in court on Nov. 21 for arraignment. One of the conditions of his release, after posting a $2,500 cash bond, was that he remain drug and alcohol free.

On Mar. 29, 2020 Tafea appeared for his pretrial conference. Immediately afterwards, the defendant was ordered by the probation office to take a drug test. Tafea allegedly tested positive for marijuana, and he was immediately arrested and transported back to the TCF to await his initial appearance in High Court for a probation revocation hearing.

According to a report from the Probation Office, the defendant allegedly admitted that he smoked marijuana two weeks prior to the test.

Tafea appeared in court last week for his preliminary examination on the allegation that he violated conditions of his release when he tested positive for marijuana.

When his case was called, Tafea’s attorney, Rob McNeill informed the court that the matter has been resolved between the defense and the government. He then asked the court to quash the Order to Show Cause (OSC) for his client in this matter.

McNeill said they have reached an agreement with the government, and Tafea is prepared to change his plea.

Tafea appeared in court on the following morning where he entered into a plea agreement with the government, and the court accepted his guilty plea.


A 46-year-old taxi driver from Nu’uuli who is accused of assaulting a fellow taxi driver was arrested over the weekend.

Taumaloto Valaau made his initial appearance in District Court this week where he entered a not guilty plea to the charges against him. He is charged with 3rd degree assault, 2nd degree property damage, and public peace disturbance.

The defendant was released by Judge Elvis P. Patea on his own recognizance subject to usual conditions, including not having direct or indirect contact with the victim.

The government claims that it was around 7:12p.m last Friday when a woman from Nu’uuli contacted police for assistance, regarding a man, who was being assaulted by another man in front of an Asian store. Three police officers responded to the call.

The caller told police that the victim, who is a taxi driver was assaulted by his male friend, “Tau”, a.k.a Taumaloto.

The woman told police that the victim was inside his vehicle, parked in front of a store in Nu’uuli, while she was standing next to the victim’s vehicle waiting for a bus.

A few moments later, another taxi pulled over and parked his vehicle next to the victim’s vehicle. According to the woman’s statement to police, she knew Taumaloto very well because they used to work together at the cannery a few years back.

She was shocked when she saw the defendant exit his vehicle, walk to where the victim was standing, grab the victim by the neck and allegedly push the victim against his vehicle.

As the victim tried to push the defendant away, that is when the defendant allegedly punched the victim in the face twice causing the victim to fall to the ground.

Another eyewitness told police all he saw was, after a brief verbal argument, the defendant allegedly threw multiple punches at the victim’s face.

The victim told police he did not want to press charges against the defendant because he’s his best friend. The victim said the defendant was mad after he (victim) picked up a passenger from the airport the defendant was supposed to pick up.

Valaau is scheduled to appear in court on May 12th, 2020 for his pretrial conference.


Two men are being charged in connection with the alleged beating of another man over borrowed carpentry tools in Tafuna last month. The victim ended up in ICU for 3 days before he was transferred to the Surgical Ward for further treatment.

The two men, Wilson Atamu and Calvin Olive made their initial appearances in District Court last week.

They are each charged with second-degree assault and felonious restraint, both class D felonies, punishable by imprisonment of up to 5 years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both. They are also each charged with third degree assault, a class A misdemeanor.

Each man is being held on a $15,000 bond, with the usual caveats, including not making any direct or indirect contact with the victim or any of the government’s witnesses.

Atamu and Olive will appear in court this Thursday for a preliminary hearing.


The government claims that on Mar. 28, 2020, a man contacted the Tafuna Substation about a possible assault involving two men who allegedly assaulted another man in Tafuna.

The victim, a 45-year-old father of three, works as a carpenter for a local construction company. Allegedly, the victim was asked by Atamu about tools he (the victim) had borrowed from Atamu’s uncle that he needed to use. When told that the tools had ‘burned out’ and he (the victim) was waiting to get paid to replace them, Atamu then punched him in the face while they were talking, and Olive held the victim’s hands while he was on the ground, and Atamu continued to punch him.

Atamu and Olive had been drinking since 1pm, according to witnesses, behind a store. The incident took place around 5:30 p.m when the victim went to the store.

Five days after the alleged incident, investigators were able to interview the victim at the Surgical Ward, who told police what had happened.

Of the defendants, Atamu told police that he punched the victim before he grabbed a hard lumber piece to strike his head; while, Olive admitted that he kicked the victim’s face and body while he was lying on the ground. Olive further stated that he had no intention of hurting the victim, but he did it for his friend Atamu.