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Man jailed for 10-1/2 months waiting for sentencing — can now look for work

American Samoa High Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man convicted of unlawful possession of illegal drugs told the court that the 10-1/2 months he spent at TCF was more than enough to teach him to become a better man in the future.

Emmanuel Afatia, who has been in custody since his arrest last year, unable to post a $5,000 surety bond appeared in High Court last week for sentencing.

Afatia was initially charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a felony punishable by imprisonment term of not less than five nor more than ten years, a fine of not less than $5,000 not more than $20,000, or both.

Under a plea agreement with the government, accepted by the court in August of this year, Afatia pled guilty to the amended charge of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a class D felony, punishable by imprisonment term of up to five years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

By his guilty plea, he admits that on December of last year, he had in his possession a stamp-sized baggie containing methamphetamine when police searched him.

The court sentenced Afatia to five years imprisonment and a fine of $2,000. Execution of the term of imprisonment was suspended and Afatia was placed on probation for five years subject to several conditions.

He was ordered to serve a period of detention of 20 months at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF). He was credited for the 10 1/2 months he already served while awaiting the outcome of this matter.

The court also ordered that the defendant be released for a period of 90 days on the condition that he seek and secure gainful employment. The court made it clear to Afatia that “gainful employment” does not include family farming, but he is to seek employment where he can work and earn a paycheck.

If the defendant is unable to secure gainful employment, the court will order him to return to the TCF to serve the remaining period of his detention. Throughout the period of probation, the court ordered the usual restrictions, including submitting to random drug testing upon demand from a Probation officer or a police officer.

The court also ordered the defendant to pay his fine.

According to the court, Afatia’s sentence will run consecutive with the prior sentence from District Court.


While in jail for sentencing on his original conviction, he was arrested again, one month later, along with two other inmates for the alleged beating of another inmate inside the TCF.

Afatia, along with the two co-defendants were each charged with one count of public peace disturbance (PPD).

The government claims that it was in the morning of Jan. 15th, 2020 when several police units were called to respond to the TCF to assist Correction Officers with a fight that was in progress. The fight was between Afatia and his two co-defendants.

One witness told police that he was the one who tried to stop Afatia from trying to enter another cell block while holding a metal object in his right hand. Later on that same day, Afatia, along with the two co-defendants walked to other side of the TCF compound and threw rocks at other inmates standing in front of another cell block.

Afatia was convicted by the District Court for PPD and was sentenced to 12 months probation.