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Home for Xmas: Two men allegedly involved in stolen property scheme get off light

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The two men convicted of receiving stolen property from a Petesa home were given light sentences last week. Reupena Tevita and Amosa Iasepi were ordered to serve 20 months at the TCF, as a condition of their 5-year probation terms.

Both men have been in custody since their arrest, each unable to post a $15,000 bond.

Tevita was initially charged with one count of receiving stolen property, a class C felony. But under a plea agreement, he pled guilty to the amended charge of conspiracy to receive stolen property from another person, a class D felony.

With his guilty plea, Tevita admits that on Dec. 18, 2019 he agreed to help Iasepi sell a laptop, a DVD player, DVDs, and a pair of black combat boots to his uncle, knowing that the items were stolen from a Petesa home, and the total value of the stolen items exceeded $100.

Co-defendant Iasepi was initially charged with second degree burglary, stealing, receiving stolen property, and trespassing.

Under a plea bargain with the government, Iasepi pled guilty to receiving stolen property. The remaining charges were dismissed. Iasepi admits that on Dec. 18, 2019 he took stolen items to a person in Vaitogi, knowing the items were stolen from a home in Petesa.

Charges against the pair stem from a break-in that occurred during the month of December in 2019 when the victim (homeowner) was off island.

When given the chance to address the court, Tevita apologized and begged for a second chance to return home to care for his wife, his two young children and his whole family. He also apologized to his family, village, and church, but did not apologize to the victim.

Iasepi also apologized to the court, his family, and his parents. He, too, did not apologize to the victim. According to him, it was his carelessness and stupidity that pushed him to break the law, and it has cost him many months of his life. He said if given a second chance, he will never appear in court again.

Defense attorney asked the court to grant his clients another chance, saying Tevita and Iasepi are both young and have a lot to learn in life. He asked for a probated sentence without any additional period of detention.

The government’s attorney echoed the motion for a probated sentence, saying that despite being convicted of a felony, both defendants are good candidates for probation.

In delivering its decision, the court noted that both defendants are first time offenders; they fully cooperated with the government during the investigation; and they are young and truly remorseful for what they did.

Reading from the Pre-Sentence Report, the court pointed out that the motivation behind the defendants’ actions was the intention to sell the stolen items so they can go out and buy beer for themselves and their friends.

The court sentenced Tevita and Iasepi each to 5 year probation, subject to certain conditions. They are to serve 20 months at the TCF; however, they only have to serve 12 months (the remaining 8 months is stayed, based on their compliance with conditions of probation). This means Tevita and Iasepi will be released in two weeks time.

While on probation, the two are ordered to remain alcohol and drug free, be law abiding, and seek and gainful employment to pay their fine of $1,000 and restitution each of $843.