Court Report: Stealing, drug cases, probation violations and sex abuse
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The government has charged a 32-year-old man with unlawful possession of marijuana, public peace disturbance, and attempted burglary of a residence in Fogagogo.
Semisi Toialevao made his initial appearance in District Court last month. He is charged in two separate cases: attempted stealing and 3rd- degree property damage in the first case; and unlawful possession of methamphetamine (meth) and unlawful possession of marijuana in the second case.
Bond is set at $10,000.
According to the government, cops were tipped off by a man who reported that a male tried to break into his neighbor’s home in Fogagogo by using a metal pipe in an attempt to open the side window on the early morning of July 31, 2022.
Police responded but were unable to locate the suspect. One week later, the same reporter contacted police again, saying the same male who tried to break into his neighbor’s home was seen walking outside the house.
When cops arrived this time, the witness pointed to the suspect who was walking on the other side of the road.
As police approached Semisi Toialevao, the defendant in this case, he ran to the back of another house in the area and a foot chase ensued. Toialevao was eventually apprehended and transported to the Tafuna Police Substation for questioning.
Prior to being taken to the TPS, a body search was conducted and two small stamped size baggies containing a white crystalline substance and one small stamped size baggie containing 5 rolled cigarettes wrapped inside a blank white paper were found in Toialevao’s right pocket.
Toialevao told police the illegal drugs were from a friend, whose identity he did not reveal. When asked about the alleged attempted house break-in, he told police it was another friend who did it — not him.
Investigators are also looking into another burglary involving another home and store in the Tafuna area not far from the location of the store where a witness allegedly saw the defendant trying to break in.
A man on probation for a drug conviction is now back in custody after he allegedly tested positive for THC/ marijuana during last month’s visit to the Probation Office.
Iosefa Sepulona appeared in court last month for his initial appearance and his Preliminary Examination (PX) is set for next week. In the meantime, he’s remanded back into custody without bond.
Despite the positive result from the drug test, Sepulona continued to deny that he had smoked marijuana.
Three years ago, the defendant was convicted of unlawful possession of meth and for stealing from his grandmother to support his drug habit. While the defendant was in custody awaiting the outcome of his case, his grandmother passed away.
A 23-year-old man from Tafeta accused of burglary and stealing has admitted to the allegations.
Talosaga Atapana, who has been in custody since his arrest, unable to post a $10,000 surety bond appeared in High Court last week for a Change of Plea hearing.
At the hearing Atapana agreed to plead guilty to an amended count of conspiracy to commit stealing, a class D felony, punishable by a jail term of up to 5 years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
Atapana admits that on Aug. 24, 2021, he unlawfully entered a store in Malaeimi with a juvenile, while another juvenile stood watch outside. Items stolen include cartons of cigarettes, cases of beer, a cell phone and a pair of computer speakers.
According to terms of the plea agreement, Atapana was assisted by two juveniles to steal items that were then transported to his home, using his vehicle.
As part of the plea agreement, the government is recommending that the court order Atapana to pay $189 restitution. Sentencing is next month and Atapana is remanded back to custody, unable to post his $10,000 surety bond.
A man accused of sexually abusing a 16-year-old girl has pled guilty.
The man, who is out on a $15,000 surety bond, appeared in High Court last week for a Change of Plea hearing.
Under a plea agreement with the government, accepted by the High Court, he pled guilty to one count of 1st- degree sexual abuse.
With his guilty plea, the 28-year-old man, admits that on Apr. 26, 2021, he inappropriately touched a 16-year-old girl for his personal gratification.
The victim told police that the defendant entered her room at night and sexually assaulted her by inappropriately touching her. Two weeks later, there was a second encounter. The defendant, who was very drunk, entered the victim’s room at night, and did the same thing to her while she was sleeping.
The victim told her mom what happened and authorities were notified immediately.
The government is recommending that the court sentence the defendant to probation, with no jail term. Sentencing is scheduled for next month.
The 26 year-old man who was convicted of stealing a laptop and Samsung Galaxy S7 phone will get another chance from the court. Talamoni Vala’au appeared in court last week for sentencing.
Under a plea agreement, accepted by the High Court, Vala’au agreed to plead guilty to the count of stealing, a class C felony.
When given the chance to address the court, Vala’au, who has been in custody since he was arrested last year unable to post bond, apologized for his actions, and begged the court for a chance to go back home to care for his parents. He also apologized to the victim in his case.
HIs defense attorney asked the court to sentence his client to a probated sentence, without any additional period of detention. He said his client was truly remorseful for what he did.
The prosecutor agreed.
After reviewing facts of the case, the court sentenced the defendant to a term of imprisonment of 7 years. Execution of sentence was suspended and the defendant was placed on probation for 7 years subject to certain conditions; including serving 28 months at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF), however, 14 months were stayed, based on his good behavior and he will only do 14 months of detention.
According to court records, the completion of the Vala’au’s detention will expire at the end of this month. When he is released, he is ordered to remain law abiding, to visit the probation office once a month, and to seek and obtain gainful employment.
Faamanu Kalauati, who was convicted of unlawful possession of illegal drugs was released from the TCF last month for 90 days to look for a job, which is one of the conditions of his 5-year-probation sentence.
If he is unable to secure gainful employment, the court ordered him to report back to the TCF to serve the remaining balance of his period of detention.
Kalauati, who had been in custody unable to post his $10,000 surety bond appeared in court last week for sentencing. His defense attorney informed the court that his client has paid his outstanding fine in full and that was confirmed by the government’s attorney.
After Kalauati apologized to the court, his defense attorney told the court that his client is truly remorseful for his actions and wants to go home to seek and secure gainful employment to provide for his wife and 5 children. The defense attorney then asked the court for a probated sentencing without any additional period of detention.
The prosecutor seconded the defense attorney’s request and asked the court to adopt the recommendation by the Probation office through the Pre Sentence Report (PSR).
After considering mitigating factors from both parties, along with the defendant’s statement, the court sentenced Kalauati to 5 years imprisonment and a fine of $2,000. Execution of the sentence was suspended and he was placed on probation for 5 years subject to several conditions.
He is to undertake a period of detention of 20 months without any release per norm, including serving 254 days forthwith. He is credited for the time he served while awaiting the outcome of his matter.
Kalauati is also to be released for a period of 90 days in which he is to seek and secure gainful employment. The defendant was told that the cannery is hiring and that family farming is not considered gainful employment.
If unable to get a job, he’s ordered back to jail to serve the balance of his detention. He’s also subject to usual probation restrictions, including ‘staying clean’. The court also ordered him to make sure to pay his $2,000 fine.
Of note, a traffic violation will also be considered another violation of conditions of his probation. Kalauati was originally stopped by traffic officers for driving a vehicle that had too many lights on the front end.