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Landlord – tenant dispute leads to probation for the landlord

American Samoa District Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The owner of a rental unit in the Malaeimi area, who was charged and convicted of assaulting his tenants — a man and his daughter — was sentenced to 12 months probation last week.

Taase Anapu was initially charged with second-degree assault, a class D felony. But the charge was dismissed following a preliminary examination (PX) last week, after the government failed to call a witness for the hearing.

Immediately afterwards, the prosecutor informed the court that the government has filed a new criminal complaint against Anapu, charging him with third degree assault, a class A misdemeanor.

Anapu appeared in court last week for a pretrial conference. When his case was called, prosecutor told the court that they had reached a plea agreement — Anapu had agreed to plead guilty to third degree assault.

With his guilty plea, Anapu admits that on Apr. 11, 2020 in Malaeimi, he assaulted a man who was renting at his home, by hitting him twice with a piece of lumber and punching him in the face. The victim’s daughter, during the assault, was allegedly hit in the arm.

The victim was transported to the LBJ Hospital for treatment following the assault, and an x-ray revealed that he had a dislocated shoulder joint. He was admitted, kept overnight, and discharged the next afternoon.

Defense attorney requested a probated sentence, saying his client is a first time offender and a suitable candidate for probation. The government echoed the defense submission, saying there were no life threatening injuries to the victim and his daughter as a result of the incident.

The prosecutor however asked the court to order Anapu to pay $182 restitution ($42 for the EMS transport and $140 in hospital fees for the victim and his daughter) and attend anger management counseling.

In delivering its decision, the court noted that the incident escalated from a rental dispute, and it appears from the affidavit that it was the victim's daughter’s actions that started the whole thing.

According to the court, the victim’s daughter was angry about the power being turned off by Anapu; she then began flipping tables inside the house and making holes in the walls.

Anapu was sentenced to 12 months probation, subject to several conditions. He has to pay a $200 fine; $182 restitution; and remain law abiding.