Overstayer convicted of meth possession is sentenced to probation, jail time
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 32-year-old man from Samoa has been ordered to depart the territory and remain outside of its borders, as a condition of his 5-year probation sentence.
Reupena Manutafa, who has been in custody since his arrest last year, unable to post a$5,000 bond, pled guilty to unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a class D felony.
He appeared in High Court last week for sentencing. He was represented by Assistant Public Defender Ryan Anderson, while prosecuting was Assistant Attorney General Laura Garvey.
Manutafa was initially charged with unlawful possession of a methamphetaine, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in jail, a fine of up to $20,000 or both.
But in a plea agreement with the government, accepted by the court in May of this year, Manutafa pled guilty to the amended charge of unlawful possession of meth, a class D felony, punishable by up to 5 years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000 or both.
He admits that on the night of Sept. 21, 2018 he had on him a glass pipe containing meth. He apologized for his actions, and asked for a chance so he can return to Samoa to care for his parents and make use of his life to serve his church, family, and village.
Anderson asked the court to adopt the recommendation by Probation, to sentence his client to a probated sentence under the condition that he depart the territory. He said the 11 months his client has spent in jail is enough punishment for this case, based on the quantity of meth that was found on him.
Associate Justice Fiti Sunia pointed out that Manutafa was here illegally (an overstayer) when he was arrested last year, after he was caught with a glass pipe containing meth.
According to a report from Immigration, Manutafa entered the territory on a 30-day permit, but continued to reside in the territory for 3 more months, before he was arrested.
Manutafa was at a party with some friends but later took a taxi home. When the cab pulled in to Manutafa’s residence, the driver found him sleeping in the back seat, heavily intoxicated.
The driver tried to wake Manutafa up but was unsuccessful.
The driver then drove to the Tafuna Substation and dropped Manutafa off there, for his safety. Manutafa spent the night at the Tafuna Substation.
When he woke up the next morning, and realized he was sleeping in a different place, Manutafa started acting violently, punching holes in the wall of the substation conference room.
During a body search, police found a glass pipe containing meth inside his pant’s pocket.
Manutafa was sentenced to 5 years in jail and a $5,000 fine. Execution of sentence is suspended and he is placed on probation for 5 years, subject to conditions that include serving 20 months at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF).
The remaining period of detention will be stayed. (Pretrial confinement — 11 months — will count as time served). Afterwards, Manutafa is to depart the territory and remain outside of its borders for the remainder of probation.
A copy of the court’s judgement and sentence must be forwarded to Immigration, to ensure Manutafa’s name is on the lookout list.