Ads by Google Ads by Google

Man convicted for marijuana possession faces deportation

American Samoa High Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man who entered into a plea agreement in a drug case has been ordered to depart the territory and remain outside of its borders for the duration of his 5-year probation sentence.

Tanielu Vaimili appeared in High Court last week for sentencing.

Vaimili, who has been in custody since his arrest on July 14, 2020, unable to post a $5,000 surety bond, was initially charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance (marijuana).

But under a plea agreement with the government, Vaimili pled guilty to the lesser, amended charge of unlawful possession of marijuana.

With his guilty plea, Vaimili admits that on the day in question, he had in his possession two marijuana joints when police searched him.

Vaimili apologized to the court and asked for a chance to return to his family in Samoa, so he can find a job to care for his parents.

He said what he did was wrong and apologized to the American Samoa Government not only for breaking the law but also disobeying Immigration laws when he remained in the territory illegally.

Vaimili’s immigration status expired two years before he was arrested.

Attorneys from both sides asked the court to adopt the recommendation in the Pre Sentence Report (PSR), and sentence Vaimili to probation for 5 years.

Vaimili was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment, but execution of the sentence was suspended, and he was placed on probation for 5 years under the condition that he depart the territory immediately and remain outside of its borders for the duration of probation.

He was also ordered to serve 20 months at the TCF. He will be credited the 13 months he served in pretrial confinement and the balance is stayed until further order of the court.

The court has ordered that a copy of the court's decision be delivered to the Immigration Office to ensure that Vaimili’s name is on the lookout list.