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Father of 5 jailed for drugs, released to find work to support his kids

American Samoa High Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A father of five convicted of unlawful possession of illegal drugs was released from the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) last week for 90 days to seek and secure gainful employment.

If Alema Siaosi is unable to secure gainful employment, the court ordered him to report back to the TCF to serve the remaining balance of his period of detention.

Siaosi, who had been in custody unable to post a $10,000 surety bond appeared in court last month for sentencing, however, due to his outstanding traffic fine in District Court in the amount of $550, the High Court continued sentencing and ordered him to clear his outstanding traffic fine first before the court considers his sentencing.

Siaosi appeared in court last week for sentencing, with his defense attorney informing the court that his client had paid his outstanding fine in full.

When given the chance to address the court, Siaosi apologized for his actions and begged the court for a second chance to return home to provide for his family — especially his wife and five young children.

The court asked Siaosi whether he understands the reason police searched him; and he replied, yes. He told the court that he was pulled over by a police officer for driving a vehicle with expired tags.

The defense attorney told the court that his client is truly remorseful for his action and wanted to go home to seek and secure gainful employment to provide for his family. Ryan Anderson told the court that his client was gainfully employed before he was arrested in January of this year. He worked as a mechanic for over 10 years and he was the sole provider for his family while his wife stayed home to care for their children.

Anderson then asked the court for a probated sentenc without any additional period of detention.

The government’s attorney seconded the defense attorney’s request and asked the court to adopt the recommendation by the Probation office through the Pre Sentence Report (PSR).

After considering mitigating factors from both parties, along with the defendant’s statement, the court sentenced Siaosi to 5 years imprisonment and a fine of $2,000. Execution of the sentence was suspended, and he was placed on probation for 5 years subject to several conditions. He was to serve 10 months of his 20 month period of detention, credited for the time he served while awaiting the outcome of his matter.

Defendant is to be released for a period of 90 days in which time he shall secure and seek gainful employment. Defendant was told that for sure the cannery is hiring, and he must remember that family farming is not considered gainful employment.

If Siaosi is unable to secure gainful employment, the court ordered him to report back to the TCF and serve the rest of his detention. The court also ordered him to make sure to pay his $2,000 fine.

In addition, he is subject to the usual probation restrictions, including not consuming nor possessing alcohol or illegal drugs; and he must submit himself for testing to make sure he’s in compliance with the stay clean order.

The court advised Siaosi that if he fails to comply with any of conditions of his probation, there will be no more discussion about probation, but the court will order him to serve the full 5 years at TCF.