Guilty plea for Tafuna burglary and “birthday party” assault on court docket
Pago Pago, AMERICA SAMOA — A 23-year-old man from Kokoland accused of burglarizing a store in Tafuna and taking off with several items has admitted to the allegations against him.
Tavita Aviata Jr, who has been in custody since his arrest, unable to post a $10,000 surety bond appeared in High Court this week for a Change of Plea hearing. He is represented by Assistant Public Defender Rob McNeill, while prosecuting is Assistant Attorney General Laura Garvey.
Aviata Jr was initially charged with stealing and first degree burglary, both class C felonies, punishable by imprisonment of up to 7 years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
However, under a plea agreement with the government, accepted by the court, Aviata Jr agreed to plead guilty to the amended count of conspiracy to commit stealing, a class D felony, punishable by a jail term of up to 5 years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
With his guilty plea, Aviata Jr admits that on Aug. 24, 2018 he unlawfully entered an Asian store in Petesa with a juvenile, and while in the store, they stole 4 cartons of cigarettes and two cases of corned beef, along with the small bottle containing coins totaling $292.
According to terms of the plea agreement, Aviata Jr assisted the two juveniles by helping them steal items and then using his truck to transport the stolen goods to his home, where he later sold the 12 cartons of cigarettes to another man for $150.
As part of the plea agreement, the government is recommending to the court to order Aviata to pay $310 restitution. Sentencing is Dec. 19th and Aviata Jr is remanded back to custody.
The High Court is taking under advisement a motion from the government to revoke bail for Wayne Solomona. Prosecutor Laura Garvey claims that Solomona violated conditions of his release from a previous case filed last year.
On July 20th, Solomona was re-arrested and charged in District Court with two misdemeanors: public peace disturbance and third degree assault. According to the government, Solomona was arrested after he allegedly assaulted his brother-in-law during a birthday party at his home.
Solomona was heavily intoxicated when police arrested him at his residence.
Garvey asked the court to revoke and forfeit Solomona’s bond. Defense attorney, Assistant Public Defender Ryan Anderson said the allegation is based on what is on a piece of paper, not solid evidence like someone being sworn in to tell the court what happened.
Anderson said there isn't sufficient evidence from the government to prove its motion, and for that reason, it must be denied. Garvey fired back and said the government has a copy of the new complaint against Solomona, which can support its motion.
Solomona, who is out on a $10,000 surety bond, has been ordered to comply with conditions of his release, especially the one requiring him to be law-abiding.