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Known store burglar is back in court

American Samoa High Court building
He escaped from custody but has since been recaptured

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 22-year-old man with a history of hitting up stores around the island appeared before Acting Associate Judge Elvis P. Patea yesterday morning pursuant to an arrest warrant from the Probation Office, for failure to comply with conditions of his 2012 probation.

Ioane Faimata, one of the four inmates being held in a holding cell behind the Department of Public Safety (DPS) building in Fagatogo was served a copy of the arrest warrant last week, after police apprehended him — nearly two weeks after escaping from custody.

Faimata appeared before Chief Justice Michael Kruse last Friday for sentencing, after he was convicted of stealing goods valued at $9,600 from an Asian store last week.

When Faimata's case was called, his attorney, Public Defender Michael White asked the court for a continuance, saying his client was just served a copy of an arrest warrant from the Probation Office for failure to comply with conditions of a probation sentence that was handed down in 2012, and he needs time to review the new allegations.

Faimata’s sentencing is rescheduled for Friday this week.

Yesterday morning, Faimata appeared before Judge Patea for an Order to Show Cause (OSC), for failure to comply with conditions of his 2012 probation sentence.

According to the government, Faimata was supposed to be served with a copy of the arrest warrant for his OSC last month; however, police had to go look for him as he had escaped from the holding cell in Fagatogo.

The government claims that Faimata was allegedly involved in a drinking session with the other three inmates in the holding cell. It was during the drinking session that a fight broke out between Faimata and another inmate, and that's when Faimata allegedly escaped from custody.

During Faimata’s hearing yesterday, the court granted his attorney’s motion to set the case for a hearing, which is now on the calendar for Jan. 7, 2019.

Faimata was remanded to custody at the holding cell in Fagatogo where he has been held since June of this year for safety reasons.

When he was escorted to the High Court last Friday and yesterday morning, both Faimata’s hands and feet were cuffed.

2012 CASE

In 2012, Faimata was placed on probation for 7 years after he was convicted of stealing and first degree burglary. As a condition of his 7-year probation, he was ordered to serve 28 months at the TCF.

For that case, the government claimed that on May 2010, Faimata burglarized a store in Pava’ia’i and stole several goods valued at over $600 in addition to $1,050 cash.

In a separate case, Faimata was convicted of stealing and first degree burglary after he and other men broke into a store in Tafuna and stole items and cash.

2017 CASE

Last year, Faimata was initially charged with three felonies; first degree burglary, possession of a burglar’s tools, and stealing. However, under a plea agreement with the government, Faimata pled guilty to stealing. The remaining charges were dismissed.

With his guilty plea, Faimata admits that on Nov. 10, 2017 he stole goods valued at $9,600 from an Asian-owned store in Tafuna.

According to the government, on Nov. 10, 2017, the owner of Pacific Mini Mart contacted the Tafuna substation for assistance, after his employees caught a man allegedly stealing goods from the store.

When police arrived at the scene, they saw Faimata bound with white rope, surrounded by 7 men.

The defendant sustained minor injuries and was treated by EMS personnel. When asked by police, Faimata said he was coerced by 3 other individuals to commit the burglary.

The store owner said Faimata told them he would remember their faces and he will kill them when he gets the chance.

Police watched the security footage from the camera at the crime scene and observed the defendant with another suspect entering the structure and leaving with cases of cigarettes in a series of back and forth trips.

The store owner told police that the total value of the cigarettes that were stolen from his store is approximately $9,600

In a written statement to police, Faimata claimed he was coerced into breaking into the premises and taking the cigarettes. He claimed that he was specifically required to retrieve 6 cases of cigarettes and he carried a knife and crowbar to the store, and had given the crowbar to the other suspect to help make the burglary happen.