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Overstayer serves 20 months for burglary, now ordered to depart territory

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — An overstayer who is serving a 28-month jail term at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) was in High Court last week for a probation review hearing.

Lafaele Tagaloa, 32, entered American Samoa on a 30-day visitor’s permit in 2017. He was in the territory illegally for over 9 months before he was arrested on Aug. 1, 2018 for entering a home and touching a sleeping female in a sexual manner.

At last week’s hearing, a report from Probation revealed that Tagaloa has already served 20 months of his sentence. Part of the court's sentencing order was that after serving 20 months behind bars, Mika's case can be considered during a review hearing.

After reviewing the report from Probation and submissions from both counsels, the court ordered that Tagaloa depart the territory and remain outside of American Samoa throughout probation.

The prosecutor was told that one of the concerns the court continues to have, is how these immigrants enter the territory on visitor permits and continue to remain on island until they are caught breaking the law.

According to the court, the problem with overstayers convicted of felonies continues to rise and the government needs to do something to stop it.

Tagaloa was initially charged with one felony count of first degree burglary and two misdemeanors: third degree assault and trespassing. But under a plea agreement, the government amended the burglary charge to second degree assault, a lesser felony charge, and the misdemeanor charges were dismissed.