Court tells gov’t you can’t ask for jail time on dismissed drug charges
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man convicted of possession of unlicensed arms was sentenced to serve 90 days at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) as a condition of his 24-month probation.
Richard Amosa appeared in Court last week for sentencing.
Amosa, was initially charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine (meth); one count of unlawful possession of meth with the intent to distribute; and two counts of possession of unlicensed arms, all felonies.
However, in a plea agreement with the government, accepted by the court in February of this year, Amosa pled guilty to the amended charge of possession of an unlicensed arm, a class A misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment of up to one year, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
As part of the plea agreement, the government asked the court to dismiss the drug charges.
When given the chance to address the court, Amosa apologized for his action and stated that he’s truly remorseful for breaking the law and that he had learned a lot of good lessons while sleeping on the cement floor at the TCF for over two months.
The Court asked the defendant to explain to the court what he had learned from jail. Amosa responded by saying that dealing with illegal activities and hanging around with the wrong people is the path to many troubles in life.
“Your honor, what I did was wrong and I have learned that I’ve shouldn’t be in this situation in the first place, however, due to my stupidity and carelessness, that was the reason why I ended up being in jail,” Amosa said.
The defense attorney asked the court to adopt the recommendation by the Probation Office stated in the Pre Sentence Report (PSR), which stated that his client is a suitable candidate for a probated sentence.
The prosecutor presented a different recommendation to the court. She asked for a period of detention. According to the government, the defendant was released on $15,000 surety bond on the same date he made his initial appearance in District Court last year. However, on May. 14 of this year, the defendant was arrested for violating a condition of his release after testing positive for meth.
The government attorney further stated that despite the facts the more serious charges (drugs) against the defendant were dismissed by the court pursuant to the plea agreement, the government feels that the defendant’s actions that led to his arrest were serious.
Before heading to the conference room for deliberation, the Court asked the government two questions:
“Where is the weapon?” the Court asked.
The government’s attorney responded that according to her notes, there was no weapon involved in the defendant’s case, only ammunition. The defense attorney echoed the government attorney’s statement.
“My second question is, how are you arguing for jail time for a criminal act that the government asked to dismiss?” the Court said.
The government attorney agreed, however, she stated to the court that despite the facts the drug charges were dismissed pursuant to terms of the plea agreement, the defendant’s action was very serious.
She pointed out that the defendant was initially charged with unlawful possession of meth and unlawful possession of meth with the intent to distribute.
The judge smiled and said that the court doesn’t like the idea of dismissing something and later on the government coming back and saying, “Well, this is related to the original charge.”
The Court said the Defendant was involved in an incident, which caused him to sustain injuries to his body. Police responded to the matter for help and later discovered controlled substances and ammunition at the defendant’s home.
The Court said that a review of the defendant’s record revealed that he is someone who tries to follow a good path for his life. He graduated and was able to work in Alaska to provide for his family, before he moved back to American Samoa to continue his service for his parents. However, his ‘untruthful’ path led to his arrest.
The defendant was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment. Execution of sentence was suspended and the defendant was placed on probation for 24 months subject to several conditions he must follow.
He will serve 90 days at the TCF. He will be credited for the 82 days he already served during his pretrial confinement.
Conditions of his probation include no consumption of any alcohol or illegal drugs; and he is subject to random testing to make sure he’s in compliance with the stay clean order.
The defendant was also ordered to pay a $1,000 fine within the first 90 days of his release from custody.
The charges against Amosa stem from an incident that was reported to police during the early morning hours of Aug. 20, 2020. On the day in question, EMS alerted the Tafuna Police Substation regarding a distress call about a fight in Nu’uuli, where a male was reportedly injured. EMS could not respond until the fight was dispersed.
A half dozen police officers answered the call.
Police spoke to Amosa’s sister who said she was the one who called for help, as her brother, Amosa, was injured in Vaitogi and it was her brother’s ex-wife who brought him home.
Investigators noted that Amosa sustained multiple abrasions on his face, hands, shoulders, back, and legs. EMS was dispatched. Cops say they attempted to wake Amosa but "he was unresponsive," according to the court affidavit.
It was while the police were in Amosa’s room that the ammunition was seen in a box laying on a table directly across from the bed where Amosa was. The sister denied knowing anything about the bullets, and then she woke Amosa and asked him about the ammunition.
EMS arrived and treated Amosa. According to them, the injuries were not life threatening. Upon hearing this, Amosa’s older brother refused to take his brother to the hospital, according to the court affidavit.
The older brother was told that police needed to search Amosa’s room, per discovery of the bullets that were now seized. Amosa’s older brother was compliant and wanted to know who called police.
The older brother agreed to the search of Amosa’s room. The search netted a a lot of items related to drug paraphernalia and meth, as well as at least two bullets.
In the closet, police recovered a green camouflage backpack containing a broken glass pipe, a melted glass pipe, 3 stamp-sized baggies containing a white crystalized substance, 2 gold chains, and a propane tank.
The search was interrupted when Amosa’s sister, asked police if she could get her green camouflage backpack. When shown the bag that contained the contraband the police had found, the woman verbally admitted that "it was her bag."
She was immediately arrested and transported to the TPS. At that time, Amosa’s mother requested that EMS come a second time, to check on her son. Amosa was subsequently transported to the LBJ for further treatment.
Meanwhile, the search at his home continued, where more drug related items were found.
Both Amosa and his sister refused to make statements when questioned by police.
Amosa’s sister was later released to go home after she was interviewed by police regarding items found in Amosa’s room, including the green backpack.