Man convicted of possessing illegal drugs gets 5-year probation
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The High Court sentenced a man convicted of violating local drug laws to 5 years probation, after the judge in the case commented that foreigners convicted of drug offenses should be sent back to their countries of origin in order to save local resources.
Reupena Ilalio is a citizen of Samoa who has been in custody for over 8 months, unable to post a $10,000 bond.
He was initially charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, an unclassified felony that carries a jail term between 5-10 years, and a fine between $5,000- $20,000 or both.
But under a plea agreement with the government, accepted by the court, Ilalio pled guilty to the amended charge of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a class D felony, punishable by imprisonment of up to 5 years, a fine up to $5,000 or both.
Ilalio admits that on Apr. 15, 2019, he unlawful possessed two small baggies containing meth. Ilalio apologized to the court, the American Samoa Government, and his family for his actions.
He requested a second chance to return home to care for his elderly father, and also his wife and children. “I don’t want to go back to the dark days of my life. I want to go home and redeem myself. I promise that I will never do this crime again.”
The defense attorney asked the court to uphold the Probation recommendation for a probated sentence. Ilalio will also attend and complete drug counseling.
The defense attorney also informed the court that Ilalio’s immigration status is current and he was employed before he was arrested. He said his client has strong ties in the territory, not only is his wife born in American Samoa, his three young children were also born here.
The prosecutor supported the defense attorney’s argument.
RECAP OF THE FACTS
According to the court, the defendant was arrested Apr. 15, 2019 when police discovered a two small baggies containing methamphetamine on him. Police arrested Ilalio for a public peace disturbance (PPD), and that’s what triggered a search of the defendant.
On Apr. 17, 2019, Ilalio was released from confinement, with conditions, after he posted a $2,000 bond.
Less than two months later, Ilalio was arrested for a PPD again, in front of the cannery in Atuu, after he and another male got into a fight.
Ilalio was convicted in District Court for PPD and sentenced to 85 days at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF).
He appeared in High Court for a Status Hearing after his initial appearance in District Court for his new case. During that hearing, the court did not revoke his release on bond; instead, it increased his bond from $2,000 to $10,000.
Ilalio has been in custody ever since, unable to post the new bond amount.
The court stated that according to Probation, Ilalio is a citizen of Samoa who has been in the territory for a long time.
“In cases like this, the only option for the court to deal with foreigners who come into American Samoa and violate local drug laws is to send them back to their countries, in order for our government to save local resources,” the court said, adding that “the court will hold off with our deportation authority for this case, at this time.”
Ilalio was sentenced to 5 years in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Execution of the sentence is suspended, and he is placed on 5 years of probation on the condition that he serve 20 months at the TCF and remain alcohol and drug free.
All but 8 months of detention is stayed until further order of the court. Ilalio was released from custody after he was sentenced last week. He is ordered to pay a fine of $2,000 and attend and complete a drug counseling program.