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Man from Samoa convicted of drug possession is ordered to depart the territory

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man from Samoa who entered into a plea agreement with the government has been ordered  to depart the territory and remain outside of its borders for the duration of his probation term.

Okesene Valoaga, 35, appeared in High Court this week for sentencing. He was represented by Public Defender Michael White, while prosecuting was Assistant Attorney General Laura Garvey.

Valoaga, who has been in custody since his arrest on Aug 22. 2018, unable to post a $5,000 surety bond, was initially charged with unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a class D felony; and third degree assault and public peace disturbance, both class A misdemeanors.

Under a plea agreement, Valoaga pled guilty to the amended charge of unlawful possession of methamphetamine. With his guilty plea, Valoaga admits that on Aug. 22, 2018 he had a glass pipe containing a small quantity of meth.

During sentencing, Valoaga apologized and begged for another chance so he can return home and be with his family, especially his wife and two young children. “I am truly remorseful for what I did. I have learned a good lesson in the 12 months I have been in prison, and I swear this will be my first and last time in court," said the defendant.

Attorneys from both sides asked the court to adopt the recommendation in the Pre Sentence Report, and sentence Valoaga to 5 years probation.

Presiding Associate Justice Fiti Sunia said Valoaga was apprehended at a nightclub with a small amount of meth. He said police got a call from an unknown person, reporting that Valoaga was selling drugs to other people inside the club.

Cops went to the nightclub in search of Valoaga, who was found with a glass pipe containing meth.

Valoaga was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment, 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 probation.

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