Drug probationer loses her freedom for 40 months, luckily not 10 years
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A young woman who received a huge break from the High Court after being convicted of unlawful possession of illegal drugs has again received another huge break after violating her parole.
Meriko Lomu was taken into custody last month after she tested positive for methamphetamine during a routine drug test by the Probation Office.
She appeared before Chief Justice Michael Kruse this week for her Disposition Hearing for violating a condition of her probation. Private attorney Marcellus Talaimalo Uiagalelei represented her, while prosecuting the case was Assistant Attorney General Doug Lowe.
When given the chance to address the court, Lomu apologized to the court for not being in compliance with her probation, and asked for another chance to redeem herself.
Lomu told the court that she was released to the custody of her mother, with the understanding that her mother is her new warden while she’s on probation. She told the court that she failed to do her part when she went back to her old life. She hung around with the wrong friends doing things that she should not do.
“Please your honors, believe me when I say that I will never violate any court order in the future,” Lomu said, adding that she didn’t want to go back to jail.
She explained to the court that her mother taught her how to deal with her drug problem, however, things kept getting worse when she started going out with her old friends.
“Your Honors,” Lomu said with tears in her eyes. “Ten years is a lifetime. I cannot endure in jail. I apologize for my actions and I promise that I will never do this again. Please, be lenient to me and allow me one more chance to prove myself.”
Her defense attorney, Uiagalelei asked the court not to revoke his client’s probation but give her another chance to change her life. He told the court that his client failed to comply with a condition of her probation and she’s truly remorseful for her action.
Prosecutor Lowe disagreed with the submission by Uiagalelei that the defendant deserved another chance.
Lowe reminded the court that the defendant was given a huge break by the same panel of Judges, believing that she would change her path and refrain from committing further serious crimes.
Lowe said that government feels the defendant disrespected the court by going back to her old life and doing the same thing.
“It’s time to call enough is enough,” Lowe said, adding that the government is asking to revoke the defendant’s probation and order her to serve the maximum sentence.
Kruse told the defendant, “You worry about the ten years we gave you but we’re concerned about the life sentence you gave to the drug addicts, due to the huge quantity of illegal drugs found on your possession.”
The court then ordered the defendant to serve the period of detention that was stayed by the court — 40 months.
“No more chances this time,” Kruse told the defendant.
“Next time if you come before us, you will do ten years.”
Associate Judges Faamausili Pomele and Muasau T. Tofili accompanied Kruse on the bench.
In Feb. 2018, police were tipped off about a home in Pago Pago allegedly housing a drug business. The ringleader was alleged to be Sio Godinet Jr. (co-defendant) and the operation involved two others: Lyon Grey and Meriko Lomu (defendant).
A confidential informant told police that there was heavy traffic to the house, mainly at night, and he was among those who bought weed and meth from this very home. The CI reported seeing money and drugs being exchanged between Godinet and buyers.
Before Godinet’s house was raided, a controlled buy was organized by police in April 2018. The CI was given cash to buy drugs from Lomu, who was with Godinet in Godinet’s vehicle when the controlled buy took place.
Lomu allegedly took the cash from the CI, and gave the CI a small baggie of weed in exchange.
A search warrant was later issued on May 15th, for the two-story structure belonging to Godinet. The search netted drugs and paraphernalia. Grey and Lomu were in the room where the contraband was found. When arrested, Grey refused to speak to police.
Lomu, 25, was charged in two separate cases, both involving illegal drugs. After entering into an agreement with the government, Lomu agreed to plead guilty to possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute in the first case.
For the second case, she pled guilty to unlawful possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute, both unclassified felonies and each count is punishable by a jail term of not more than 10 years, a fine of up to $20,000 or both.
Lomu was sentenced to ten years imprisonment for each count. Sentences to run concurrently. Execution of the sentence was suspended and the defendant was placed on probation for 10 years with several conditions, including a 40-month period of detention at the TCF without release, which was stayed.
The court told Lomu at the time that if she ever at anytime violated any conditions of her probation, “think first about the term of imprisonment of 10 years.”