Man given second chance to get his life together
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A passenger of a vehicle convicted for unlawful possession of methamphetamine (meth) was sentenced to a term of probation. As a condition of his probation, Alesana Taulamago was ordered to depart the territory and remain outside of its borders for the period of his probation, however, this condition is stayed, based on his good behavior.
Taulamago, who was released from custody after the court accepted his plea agreement with the government last month, appeared in court last week for sentencing.
He was initially charged with a single count of unlawful possession of meth, a felony punishable by term of imprisonment of not less than five nor more than ten years and a fine of not more than $20,000, or both.
However, under a plea agreement with the government, Taulamago pled guilty to the lesser charge of unlawful possession of methamphetamine. With his guilty plea, he admits that Oct. 1, 2020 he possessed a glass pipe containing meth, while he was a passenger inside a vehicle, pulled over by police for a traffic violation.
Defense attorney, Assistant Public Defender, Ryan Anderson asked the court to sentence his client to time served and place him on probation. He told the court that ever since his client was released from custody by the court last month, he has gone back home and has immediately secured gainful employment to support his family.
Anderson said he has learned his lesson from the 5 months he spent in custody before he was released by the court on his own recognizance and he’s truly remorseful for what he’s done. Anderson further told the court that the quantity of meth found in his client’s possession was clearly for personal use.
When given the chance to address the court, Taulamago apologized for his actions and told the court that he has learned a good lesson and he now realizes that hanging out with wrong friends will end up in big trouble.
He told the court that ever since he was released from custody, he has abided with all the conditions the court gave him.
Prosecutor Soule agreed with the defense’s submission and asked the court to sentence the defendant to a term of probation.
Taulamago was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment and $2,000 fine. Execution of sentence is suspended and the defendant is placed on probation for 5 years, subject to several conditions.
He is ordered to serve a period of detention of 20 months without any release. He will be credited for the 133 days he already served, while awaiting the outcome of this matter. The balance of detention is stayed until further order of the court.
Upon release from custody, Taulamago is ordered to depart the territory and remain outside of its borders for the duration of his probation, which is 5 years. However, this condition is also stayed base on his good behavior.
The court ordered the defendant to not consume alcohol or illegal drugs and he is subject to random testing at any time to make sure he’s in compliance of the ‘stay clean’ condition.
Associate Judge Muasau T. Tofili assisted Kruse on the bench.
On Oct. 1, 2020, a vehicle was seen and stopped in Malaeimi, by police after it was noticed that the vehicle did not have current license tags, and after checking with headquarters, it was confirmed its license was expired.
During the traffic stop, the driver of the vehicle, Toilolo was discovered to have been cited earlier in the day for operating a vehicle with expired tags. He was also driving without a valid driver’s license since 2018. The vehicle was impounded and the driver and three passengers searched per routine.
The front passenger, later identified as Alesana Taulamago, a co-defendant in this case, during his pat down was discovered to have a hard object inside his right lower pocket. When asked what was inside of his pocket, Taulamago responded by stating, “o le laau” translation, “it’s a stick”. (Another street term for the glass pipe commonly used to smoke meth).
The white substance inside the pipe later tested positive for meth.