COURT REPORT: Mother and son deny allegations against them
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The separate cases of a mother and her son have been continued until May of this year after they entered not guilty pleas to the charges against them.
Josephine Siaumau-Gauta and her son Solomona Gauta appeared in High Court this week for arraignment, after they waived their rights to a preliminary hearing before District Court Judge Elvis P. Patea last Friday.
Both defendants were remanded back into custody unable to post their bonds — Josephine’s bond is $25,000, while Solomona’s is $5,000.
Josephine is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute; and one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine; both felonies, punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than five nor more than ten years and a fine of not less than $5,000 nor more than $20,000, or both.
The charges against Josephine stem from an incident where she allegedly tried to smuggle a quantity of methamphetamine to a Correctional Facility (C.O) guard with the intent to deliver to inmate Pati Lepou.
(The C.O guard, Ofisa Enoka Leifi Jr is also charged for his role in this alleged incident.)
Solomona, her son, is charged with one count of second-degree assault, a class D felony, punishable by imprisonment of up to 5 years, a fine of up to $5,000 or both.
The single charge against Solomona stems from an incident where he allegedly stabbed his sister’s boyfriend with a knife.
A young man convicted of misdemeanor stealing and resisting arrest has been ordered to serve 60 days at the Territorial Correctional Facility, as a condition of his 24-month probation sentence.
Anthony Mata’u has been in custody since January of this year. He was initially charged with public peace disturbance, stealing, resisting arrest, property damage and third degree assault.
However, in a plea agreement with the government, Mata’u pled guilty to stealing and the remaining charges were dismissed.
When he appeared before District Court Judge Elvis P. Patea last week for sentencing, Mata’u apologized for his actions and begged for a second chance to return home to care for his parents and serve his family and church.
He also apologized to the victim and asked for forgiveness. The defendant said he is truly remorseful for what he did and assured the judge that he will never again break any laws, adding that if given another chance, he will do everything he can to change his life.
Patea asked the defendant what happened to the many chances the court gave him when he appeared 4 times for previous court cases. Mata’u said he messed up and he was trying his best to abide by the law, but he failed.
Attorneys from both sides asked the court to sentence the defendant to 24 months probation, under the condition that he attend and complete alcohol counseling, and refrain from consuming alcohol.
However Patea told Mata’u that the court gave him a lot of chances before, but it appears that he has not learned his lesson. A report from the Probation Office states that Mata’u has completed alcohol counseling that was ordered by the court, as a condition of a previous court matter.
“You’re not new in this court, this is the 5th time you've come before this Court. You have been convicted of public peace disturbance three times. You've also been convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) and now you’re convicted of stealing. Who knows, maybe your next criminal act will be a felony?” Patea said.
According to court records, Mata’u was placed on 12-months probation earlier last year in April, after he was convicted of a DUI. A few months later, he was arrested and charged with misdemeanor stealing.
The judge then revoked Matau’s 12-month probation sentence from the DUI matter, and ordered him to serve the suspended sentence of 60 days. He will be credited for the 51 days he's already spent in confinement.
For this case, Mata’u has been sentenced to serve 12 months at the TCF.
The sentence is suspended however, and he is placed on probation for 24 months, under the condition that he serve 120 days behind bars.
Patea ordered the defendant to serve only 60 days, and the remaining term is stayed, if he complies with all the conditions of probation.
This sentence will run consecutively with the 9 days he needs to serve for probation revocation.
Mata’u is also ordered to pay a $125 fine within 30 days, and he must be gainfully employed after he is released from prison.