Man who pleads guilty to possession of ice has prior PPD — for fighting inside TCF
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man convicted of unlawful possession of illegal drugs told the court that the eight and a half months he spent in prison was more than enough to teach him a good lesson to become a better man in the future.
When given the chance to address the court, Ah Chong Lefatia apologized for his actions and asked the court for a second chance to return home and provide for his family especially his parents and young siblings. He stated that he now realizes that what he did was wrong and he will never violate any laws of the land in the future. He also told the court that he’s truly remorseful for what he did.
His defense attorney, Rob McNeill asked the court to consider his client’s request and allow him the opportunity to go back home to care of his parents. McNeill stated that his client was found with a small quantity of methamphetamine, and he agreed with the recommendation contained in the Pre Sentence Report (PSR) by the Probation Office that his client is a suitable candidate for a probated sentence.
Prosecutor Laura Garvey echoed the defense’s submission and asked the court to adopt the Probation Office’s recommendation.
After reviewing submission by both parties, the recommendation contained in the PSR, the defendant’s statement, the defense’s mitigating submission regarding the quantity of methamphetamine found in the defendant’s possession, and Lefatia’s family background.
Lefatia, who has been in custody since his arrest last year, unable to post his $5,000 surety bond appeared in High Court last week for sentencing.
Lefatia 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 March of this year, Lefatia pled guilty to the amended charged of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a class D, punishable by imprisonment term of up to five years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
By his guilty plea, Lefatia admits that on August of last year, he had in his possession a stamp-sized baggie containing methamphetamine when police searched him.
The court then sentenced Lefatia to five years imprisonment and a fine of $2,000. Execution of the term of imprisonment was suspended and Lefatia was placed on probation for five years subject to several conditions.
Lefatia was ordered to serve a period of detention of 20 months at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF). He was credited for the 8 1/2 months he already served while awaiting the outcome of this matter.
The court also ordered that the defendant shall be released for a period of 90 days on the condition that he seek and secure gainful employment. The court made it clear to Lefatia 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 restriction, including submiting to random drug testing upon a demand from a Probation officer or a police officer.
The court also ordered the defendant to pay his fine.
According to the court, Lefatia’s sentence will be consecutive with whatever prior sentence he has from District Court.
While awaiting in jail for sentencing on his original conviction, as Lefatia was unable to post his bond, he was arrested again, one month later, along with three other inmates for the alleged beating of another inmate inside the TCF.
Lefatia, along with the three other co-defendants were each charged with one count of public peace disturbance (PPD).
The government claims that it was in the morning of Oct. 5th, 2019 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 Lefatia and his three co-defendants, Titio Titio Jr; his brother Asofa Titio and Reggie Vaavale, against another inmate — Thomas Siaumau.
One witness told police that he was the one who tried to stop Lefatia from trying to enter Bravo Unit while holding a metal object in his right hand. Later on that same day, Lefatia, along with the three co-defendants walked to other side of the TCF compound and threw rocks at other inmates standing in front of the Bravo Unit.
Lefatia was convicted by the District Court for PPD and was sentenced to 12 months probation.