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Four inmates charged with escape — yet again

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The four inmates accused of escaping from custody appeared in District Court for their initial appearance.

The four inmates include Joe Togitogi; Ryan Toga Pite; Joseph Iosefa Iakopo and Asofa Titio, and are each charged with one count of escape from confinement, a class D felony, punishable by imprisonment terms of 5 years, a fine of $5,000 or both.

All four inmates are held in custody without bail.

The government alleged that in August of last year, all four inmates escaped from custody without legal authorization from the court.

Judge Elvis P. Patea told the four defendants during their initial appearance last week that their faces are so familiar with the court.

Prosecutor Laura Garvey echoed Patea’s statement and said that this is not the first time these inmates are charged with escape from confinement.


In March of last year, Togitogi, Pite and Iakopo were each sentenced to 5 years imprisonment after they were convicted of escaping from the Territorial Correctional Facility.

During sentencing before Chief Justice Michael Kruse, the three inmates told the court that they escaped because police treated them like animals, and they wanted to notify their families of the situation.

They further stated to the court that they were beaten up by TCF guards, mistreated and made to sleep on a cement floor for almost a month.

According to Samoa News archives, Togitogi has a criminal record that dates back to 2013 when he was convicted of assaulting a homeless man in Nuuuli, and was ordered to serve 20 months as a condition of his 5-year probation sentence.  

A few weeks after he was released from prison in 2015, Togitogi was arrested again for assaulting a man in front of a restaurant in Nuuuli.

He was convicted of second-degree assault and ordered to serve a 5-year straight sentence. On Apr. 16, 2016 while serving that sentence, Togitogi escaped from prison and was charged accordingly. In January of 2018, the High Court ordered him to serve 3 years for that escape conviction, which brings his period of detention in jail to 8 years.

Iakopo was sentenced in 2014 to 16 years in jail after he was convicted of 14 burglaries involving six stores, a church, two restaurants, and five homes.

While serving time for a previous conviction, Pite and another inmate escaped from the TCF and burglarized the Bank of Hawaii, KFC and Pizza Hut in 2012. Pite is serving a period of detention of 17 years in TCF.

Titio is serving a period of detention of 12 years in TCF. In 2018, he was sentenced to 7 years in jail for his role in a burglary case. Last month, he was sentenced to an additional 5 years for assault of another inmate in October of last year.