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DUI charges trigger probation revocation hearing

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — After the High Court sentenced Asovale Ugapo last year to 28 months in the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF), as a condition of a 7-year probation term for embezzlement, he once again appeared in District Court two weeks ago for a Probation Revocation hearing due to another conviction.

The hearing was called by the Probation Office, which accused Asovale Ugapo of not complying with conditions of his probation handed down by the District Court two years ago — he was convicted of driving under the influence (DUI). One of the conditions of his 7-year probation required him to be a law-abiding citizen.

During the hearing before the court 2 weeks ago, Ugapo admitted that he made a terrible mistake and he is remorseful. He asked the court for forgiveness and a second chance.

The court reminded Ugapo that during all three times he has appeared in District Court for DUIs, the court has always given him probated sentences, with deferred detention periods.

“You have no more chances right now. The court revokes your probation and orders that all periods of detention that were deferred will be served immediately,” the court told Ugapo.

Neither of the attorneys knew exactly the amount of detention periods the court deferred for the defendant. But the court ordered that whatever the number is, the defendant has to serve it all, and they will run concurrently (at the same time) with the sentence that was handed down by the High Court two months ago.

The court also reminded Ugapo that because he has been convicted three times of DUI, his privilege to drive in American Samoa was suspended for life a few years ago. And that decision is still valid.

“You are no longer allowed to drive any vehicle in the territory, for the rest of your life,” the court reminded the defendant.