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Judge continues sentencing in guilty plea after defendant’s criminal history uncovered

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The court has continued sentencing for Taai Taufete’e to July 28, to allow attorneys and probation officers to do more research regarding the defendant’s previous cases.

Taufete’e, who is still in custody since his arrest on June 2, 2018 appeared before District Court Judge Fiti Sunia this week for sentencing. However, due to his criminal history in the court system, Sunia then continued Taufete’e’s case for another two weeks.

Taufete’e was initially charged with 7 misdemeanor charges, however under a plea agreement with the government, Taufete’e agreed to plead guilty to the charge of public peace disturbance (PPD) and endangering the welfare of a child. In return for his guilty plea, the government agreed to dismiss the five remaining charges against the defendant, including 2 counts of 3rd degree assault; endangering the welfare of a child; trespass and resisting arrest; all misdemeanors.

The government claimed that on June 2 in Nuuuli while he was intoxicated, the defendant engaged in threatening behavior against some young children in the village. He also threatened to harm one child from another family in the village. Taufete’e was arrested on the day of the incident.

The defense attorney, Ryan Anderson asked the court for 18 months probation with the condition that he has to attend and complete alcohol and drugs counseling. Prosecutor Bianca Lherisson echoed the defense attorney’s recommendation for the 18-month probation.

Sunia did not agree. He told both attorneys that Taufete’e was on probation when he committed this crime in June 2, and his new action showed that he doesn’t respect what the court told him not to do when he was placed on probation for 12 months.

“This is not the first time this defendant has appeared in court. He was convicted for public peace disturbance pursuant to a plea agreement, and the two counts of DUI were dismissed. He was sentenced to 12 months probation in May of this year. One month later, he re-offended, and now, you’re asking the court for an 18 months probation,” Sunia told Lherisson.

He then continued the sentencing for Taufete’e until July 28.