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Defendant in Tafuna store theft pleads guilty to stealing — needed drugs, beer and food for his family

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man accused of stealing money from a cash register at a Tafuna store last year entered into a plea agreement with the government last Friday.

Ieremia Ah Wong, who was initially charged with first degree burglary, stealing, and public peace disturbance, pled guilty to stealing. In return, the remaining charges were dismissed.

The court accepted the plea agreement and scheduled sentencing for Feb. 7, 2020

During court proceedings, Ah Wong, who has been in custody since his arrest, unable to post a $15,000 surety bond, admitted to taking money from a cash register at a Tafuna store on January 30, 2019 of which $957 was returned to police.

Assistant Attorney General Doug Lowe informed the court that part of the money has been returned to the store owner, while the rest was never recovered.

When the court asked the defendant what he did with the rest of the loot, Ah Wong said $1,450 was for personal use, while $351 was given to his friend, Willam Naotala, who is his co-defendant in this case.

“What did you do with the $1,450?” the court asked the defendant. Ah Wong replied, “I used part of that money to buy beer and drugs for me and my friends, while the other part of the money was used to buy food for my family in Samoa.”

When asked how he got the food to Samoa, Ah Wong smiled and said, “I sent it through the MV Lady Naomi.”