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One of 4 January escapees sentenced to 28 months confinement

Territorial Correctional Facility, TCF
One of the other 3 distracts the court and is scolded by the CJ

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — One of the four inmates charged for escaping from confinement in January is going to jail. Timata Naea, 21-years-old, was ordered by Acting Associate Justice Elvis P. Patea to serve 28 months at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) as a condition of his 7-year probation.

Naea was initially charged in 3 separate cases. One case charged him with stealing; another with several charges including 4 counts of stealing; 3 counts of 1st degree burglary; 1 count of 2nd degree burglary; 1 count of escape from confinement, and the misdemeanor charge of alluding police officers; and the third charged him with 1 count of escape from confinement.

Under a plea agreement with the government, Naea agreed to plead guilty to stealing in the first case; and 2 counts of stealing and 1 count of first-degree burglary in the second case.

In return, the remaining charges were dismissed.

With his guilty pleas, Naea admits that on Sept. 7, 2017 while he was inside a store in Nu’uuli, he stole a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 tablet, worth more than $100

He also admits that on Oct. 30, 2017 he stole several electronic items including an Apple iPad, a computer scanner, and a Samsung tablet from another store in Nu’uuli.

Naea further confirms that on Nov. 7, 2017, he entered a home in Nu’uuli in the middle of the night without permission and stole several items including 2 television sets, a laptop, 2 speakers, a bag, 4 pairs of shoes, a big fine mat, and an Apple iPad, together worth more than $5,000

Naea appeared before Patea last week for sentencing. He was represented by Acting Public Defender Michael White, while prosecuting the case was Assistant Attorney General Robert Morris.

When given the chance to speak, Naea apologized to the court for breaking the laws and begged for a second chance to go back home to take care of his elderly mother, who is the only person left in the family. He further apologized to his family, his village of Faleniu, and especially to the families that were affected because of his actions. He told the court that he was truly remorseful for what he did and wants to go back home.

His attorney, White, told the court that Naea is a young man who has an alcohol problem that he needs to fix. Before he was arrested, White told the court that Naea was hanging out with some of the bad youth at his village, who tempted him to drink and break the law.

“He was detained at the Juvenile Detention Center (JDC) before he was transferred up to TCF. I told him that he doesn’t understand how bad life is because he’s only 20 years old, compared to myself, I’m almost 60 years old and I know what is good and bad. This young man needs to attend and complete alcohol abuse counseling and is a suitable candidate for a probated sentence,” White told the court.

However, Morris told the court that the charges against the defendant speak for themselves. He then asked the court to sentence the defendant to a term of probation with the condition that he serve a period of detention.

Before delivering his decision, Patea wanted to know if the government’s attorney had a chance to speak to victims in the case, and whether the victims are asking for restitution.

“The reason the court asks this question is that, the government never asked for restitution. So the court wants to know what’s the government’s position on the issue of restitution,” Patea said to the government’s attorney.

Morris told the court that he spoke to one of the victims in November of last year about this case, and she wanted the defendant to pay back what he stole from her store. Morris then asked the court for restitution in the amount of $5,000.

In delivering his decision, Patea stated that according to the Pre Sentence Report (PRS), the court sees that Naea is a young man who is only 21 years old, and he dropped out of school when he was 11 years old.

In the first case where Naea was convicted of stealing, he was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 7 years.

In the second case where the defendant was convicted of two counts of stealing and 1 count of burglary in the first degree, the court sentenced him to a term of imprisonment of 7 years for each count.

The defendant’s sentences will run concurrently.

Execution of the sentences was suspended, and Naea was placed on probation for 7 years under certain conditions.

He is to serve a period of detention of 28 months at TCF. Upon release from prison, he is to seek, and obtain gainful employment within 90 days of his release. He is to refrain from consuming alcohol or possessing illegal drugs.

Associate Judges Satele Li’o Satele and Paepae I. Fai’ai accompanied Patea on the bench.


The 3 co-defendants in Naea’s case are Ryan Pite, Joe Togitogi and Joseph Iakopo, who are now scheduled to appear in High Court on July 27 for their pretrial conferences.

All 3 defendants appeared before Chief Justice Michael Kruse last Friday for their pretrial conferences, however, the court granted a combined motion from both attorneys for another continuance. They’re all represented by White, while prosecuting the case is Assistant Attorney General, Woodrow Pengelly.

When the case was called, Pengelly told the court that counsel White informed him about a missing piece of discovery that former Public Defender Doug Fiaui did not turn over to him when these cases were transferred to him last month.

The piece of discovery the defense attorney did not receive was the surveillance footage from one of the stores of what allegedly happened when they escaped from prison at the beginning of this year.

While Kruse and both attorneys were discussing some issues regarding the case of the 3 defendants, defendant Togitogi, who was sitting beside White on the defense table, made some motions that caught the eye of the Chief Justice. Togitogi’s actions did not sit well with Kruse, who then instructed Togitogi in a loud voice to put his hands down and behave himself.

Kruse then asked White what he wanted to do. White requested a 30-day continuance. The CJ immediately granted the motion.

Meanwhile, Togitogi continued to distract the court, by talking to his co-defendant Iakopo who was sitting on a chair behind him, while his hands were making actions.

“Young man,” Kruse called out to Togitogi while raising his voice, “If you continue to distract the court, I will have the Marshal come over and tape your mouth.”

Kruse then continued the hearing for all of the 3 defendants until July 27.