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Man convicted of meth possession given 5-year probation

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He must depart the territory for duration of probation

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man from Samoa who entered into a plea agreement over an unlawful possession of methamphetamine charge with the government has been ordered by the court to depart the territory and remain outside of its borders for the duration of his probation.

Suitulaga Faafetai, 29, also known as Tulaga Apelu, appeared in High Court last week for sentencing. He was represented by Public Defender Michael White, while prosecuting the case was Assistant Attorney General Laura Garvey.

Faafetai, who has been in custody since his arrest in Nov. 2017, unable to post a $5,000, surety bond, was initially charged with unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a class D felony; along with third degree assault and public peace disturbance, both class A misdemeanors.

 But under a plea agreement with the government, Faafetai pled guilty to the amended charge of unlawful possession of methamphetamine.

With his guilty plea, Faafetai admits that on Aug. 20, 2017 he had a glass pipe containing a small quantity of meth.

He apologized to the court and begged for another chance, so he can be released from the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) to be with his family, especially his wife and two young children.

Attorneys from both parties asked the court to follow the recommendation from the Pre Sentence Report, for Faafetai to be placed on probation for 5 years/

White asked to suspend the condition of allowing his client to depart the territory, due to his illegal immigration status; however, Garvey wanted the court to order the defendant to depart the territory immediately.

Associate Justice Fiti Sunia said the defendant was apprehended at a night club with a small amount of meth. He said police got a call from an unknown person who was inside the night club, saying the defendant was selling drugs inside the club to other people. Cops entered the nightclub in search of the defendant, who was inside the bathroom. When police searched his body, a glass pipe containing meth was found on him.

Faafetai was sentenced to 5 years in jail, but execution of the sentence is suspended, and he is 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 his probation.

Sunia ordered that a copy of the court's decision be delivered to the Immigration Office to ensure the defendant’s name is on their lookout list.