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Father of six — also an overstayer — pleads guilty to meth possession

American Samoa High Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — An overstayer from Samoa who pled guilty to meth possession is ordered to serve 20 months at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF), as a condition of his 5-year probation sentence.

Kalolo Aleki Jr, who has been in the territory illegally for 3 years, appeared in High Court last week for sentencing, which was continued from last month, because Associate Justice Fiti Sunia wanted to know more about his illegal immigration status.

Prosecuting the case was Assistant Attorney General Doug Lowe, while Assistant Public Defender Rob McNeill represented Aleki Jr, who has been in custody since his arrest in January of this year, unable to post a $5,000 surety bond.

Aleki Jr, a father of 6, was initially charged with unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a felony punishable by imprisonment of 5-10 years, a fine between $5,000-$20,000 or both.

Under a plea agreement accepted by the High Court in October of this year, Aleki Jr pled guilty to the amended charge of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a class D felony, punishable by up to 5 years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000 or both.

He admits that on Feb. 24, 2019 he had on him, drugs and paraphernalia when police pulled him over.

When given the chance to speak, Aleki Jr apologized and begged for a second chance so he can return home and care for his children. He told the court that his eldest daughter left American Samoa for the military Monday night, leaving his wife and their 5 kids at home.

With tears on his eyes, Aleki Jr said he’s truly remorseful and he knows his kids really need him at home.

McNeill asked the court to adopt Probation’s recommendation in the Pre Sentence Report (PSR), and sentence Aleki Jr to probation. He said Aleki Jr is a first-time offender, and the drugs found on him were for personal use. Prosecutor Lowe echoed the defense’s submission.

According to the court, Aleki Jr was pulled over because the light on his license plate was not working, and his turn signal wasn't flashing when he turned on to the Vaitogi Road on Friday, Feb. 24, 2019.

When asked for his driver's license, Aleki Jr said he didn't have it on him, neither did he have any other form of ID. While speaking to Aleki Jr, the officer noticed a cut-up straw "commonly used to scoop meth” on the back seat of the vehicle.

Aleki Jr’s vehicle was impounded and an inventory netted a stamp-sized baggie with a small amount of a crystalline substance, which later tested positive as meth, on the floor of the back seat.

At first, Aleki Jr told police he had no knowledge of the baggie and its contents. But a similar baggie, also containing a crystalline substance that later tested positive as meth, was found on him during a body search.

Aleki Jr then admitted to police that he started smoking ice 3 months prior, saying it “gives him strength to do his chores at home." He said he doesn't own a pipe, he usually borrows one from a friend in Vaitogi and the baggie they found was also from a friend.

Aleki Jr was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment. Execution of sentence is suspended and he is placed on 5 years probation subject to several conditions. He has to serve 20 months at the TCF, credited for the 9 months he has already served.

Upon release from detention, Aleki Jr is ordered to immediately depart the territory and remain outside of its borders for the duration of probation, unless he is able to return to American Samoa lawfully as a “registered alien”.

If Aleki Jr returns as a registered alien, he is ordered to comply with conditions of probation - he is to remain law abiding, alcohol and drug free, and he has to pay a $1,000 fine.