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Man released after 5 months behind bars for driving with suspended license

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man convicted of driving a vehicle while his license is permanently suspended for previous DUI convictions was released from custody last week after the court decided that the 5 months he served while awaiting the outcome of his case is sufficient for his period of detention.

Luki Netane, who had been in custody since his arrest in May of this year , appeared in Court last week for sentencing.

Netane was initially charged with one count of felony driving after a plea agreement with the government, that was accepted by the court last month. It is a class D felony, punishable by imprisonment of up to 5 years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both, with a mandatory period of detention of 90 days.

During his sentencing, both parties asked the court for a probated sentence. Defense attorney, Rob McNeill told the court that there was no alcohol involved when police pulled over his client’s vehicle over during a traffic stop while his client was on his way to work.

According to McNeill, Netane is a family man who works very hard to provide for his wife and children. He was employed by the American Samoa Power Authority (ASPA) before he was arrested.

A letter from the Division of ASPA where the defendant was employed confirmed to the court that ASPA is still willing to offer employment to the defendant because of his performance and honesty at his job.

Prosecutor, Kristie Soule echoed the defense’s submission and asked the court for a probated sentence.

In delivering its decision, the court strongly advised the defendant that his privilege to drive a vehicle in the territory is permanently suspended, meaning, he is not allowed to drive any vehicle inside the territory.

The court noted that it is really difficult for the defendant to get to his place of employment, and his work also needs him to drive a vehicle, however, the court strongly advised Netane that he must comply with the order of the court.

The court’s judgment was that the 154 days Netane served during his pretrial detention is sufficient sentence for this matter.

He was ordered to pay a fine of $500 within 6 months.