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Man caught with “small baggie of meth” sentenced to serve time + probation

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man convicted for violating local drug laws was sentenced to a period of probation of 5 years.

Francis Hema, who has been in custody since his arrest in July of this year, unable to post his $5,000 surety bond, appeared in court this week for sentencing.

 Hema was initially charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine (meth), an unclassified felony, punishable by imprisonment from 5-10 year, a fine of up to $20,000, or both, but under a plea agreement, which was accepted by the court, Hema pled guilty to a lesser, amended charge.

In court, Hema admitted that on July 3, 2020 he unlawfully possessed a small baggie containing meth.

When given the chance to address the court, Hema apologized for his actions and told the court that he’s truly remorseful for his actions and wanted to go back home to care for his young family. He told the court that his secret life of doing illegal drugs destroyed his good family, something he had worked very hard for many years to build.

He further told the court that spending over 4 months in prison taught him that living as a criminal is not a good thing for someone who wants to be a family man and a role model for his wife and children.

Both parties asked the court for a probated sentencing saying that Hema is a suitable candidate for a probated sentence. The court agreed.

Associate Justice, Fiti Sunia told Hema the court fully believes that he’s a suitable candidate for a probated sentenced, however, if he violates any conditions of his probation, there will be no second chance for him in the future.

As a condition of his 5 years probation, the defendant was ordered to serve a period of detention of 20 months in prison. He is credited for the over 4 months he has already served during his pretrial detention. All but 6 months is stayed until further order from the court. The defendant is to serve two more months before he’s released from jail.

Upon release, the defendant is ordered to seek and secure gainful employment and pay his fine of $2,000 within the first 12 months of release from jail.

The court strongly advised the defendant to make sure to seek and secure a steady job to provide for his family to get himself back on track. If he violates any of the conditions of his probation, there will be no more talk about probation, but the court will order him to serve the full 5 years in jail. So, the choice now belongs to him.