Courts hear plea bargain, arraignment and hand down sentence in suspended license case
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A young man from Iliili with a long criminal history entered into a plea bargain with the government last week during court proceedings in District Court.
Alauni Lagomau, who is on probation, was initially charged with 4 misdemeanors including 2 counts of third degree assault, resisting arrest, and public peace disturbance (PPD).
However, under a plea agreement with the government, Lagomau pled guilty to PPD and the remaining charges were dismissed.
With his guilty plea, Lagomau admits that on Aug. 19, 2020 in Mesepa, he disturbed the public peace by being involved in a fight, during which he became loud and caused fear in others.
The court sentenced Lagomau to 6 months probation.
According to court records, Lagomau has been detained since his arrest and therefore has already served over 2 months in prison.
The court ordered that Lagomau be released from the TCF but he will remain there, pending a hearing in High Court, to revoke his probation, this Friday, Oct. 23rd at 9am.
The revocation hearing concerns a case in 2017, when the High Court placed Lagomau on probation for five years, after he was convicted of felony driving and resisting arrest. As a condition of his probation, he was ordered to serve 20 months at the TCF and remain a law abiding citizen.
A 39-year-old man convicted of driving with a permanently suspended license has been sentenced to 20 months in the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) as a condition of a 5-year probation term.
Reupena Fa'afetai of Tafuna, has been in custody since his arrest on Mar 29, 2020 as he was unable to post a $5,000 bond.
Faafetai pled guilty to the initial charge under a plea agreement with the government, that on Mar. 29, 2020 he operated a motor vehicle while his license was permanently suspended by the District Court. He had been convicted of driving under the influence three times previously.
When given the chance to speak, Faafetai apologized and asked for another chance to return home to care for his family. He said he was driving to his daughter’s workplace to pick her up after work because it was 11 p.m at night.
Defense attorney reminded the court that despite his client's conviction, it is clear from the police report that there was no alcohol or illegal drugs involved when police pulled him over during a traffic stopped for a broken license plate light.
The prosecutor echoed the defense motion for a probated sentence, saying Faafetai has shown true remorse, however adding that a period of incarceration is appropriate, so a message is sent out to other drivers whose licenses have been suspended that the court will not take these issues lightly.
The court told Faafetai, “You took a big risk when you got behind the wheel, knowing that your driver’s license was permanently suspended by the court after you were convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol three times.” The court went on to note that his sentence would reflect that “there was no alcohol or illegal drugs involved in this case,” when police arrested him.
Faafetai was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment. Execution of sentence is suspended and he is placed on probation for 5 years under certain conditions. He is to serve 20 months at the TCF. However, after 6 months, which includes time served, the court will consider a motion for work release. (He has been in jail for about 6 months awaiting his case.)
Faafetai is not eligible for trustee status while at the TCF.
A 24-year-old man who is accused of stealing items from an Asian store in Tafuna has been charged with misdemeanor stealing and public peace disturbance.
Wallen Filemoni made his initial appearance before District Court Judge Elvis P. Patea 2 weeks ago, where his attorney, requested that his client be released on his own recognizance.
The motion was granted by the court under usual conditions, including not entering the Asian store where the incident is alleged to have happened.
According to the government, it was around 8:50 p.m on Oct. 8, 2020 that police got a call that an intoxicated man stole items from an Asian store in Tafuna.
The storeowner told police the defendant fled the store without paying for the goods — a beer, cigarettes and canned chips.
The defendant was later apprehended and placed in the storeowner’s car to await police, after Tafuna residents, who witnessed the chase, assisted in his capture.
The storeowner told police this was not the first time Filemoni has done this at his store. The last time the defendant allegedly took two large beer bottles and walked away, while he (the owner) was talking on the phone. The next morning, Filemoni’s older brother went to the store and apologized to the owner, before paying for the beer.
Filemoni’s next court appearance is set for Nov. 30th