Parole violators must now serve out remainder of sentences
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Repeat offender Richard Mata was ordered by the court last week to serve out the remaining 7 months of a 20-month sentence from a 2018 case. The decision came after the court found Mata in violation of conditions of his 5-year probation.
Mata was found guilty by the District Court last month of disturbing the public peace, and subsequently sentenced to 152 days in jail — which was the amount of time he served while awaiting his sentencing.
He appeared in High Court earlier this month for a hearing after he failed to comply with conditions of his probation from a previous conviction.
Mata’s defense attorney informed the court that District Court sentenced his client to time served, after he was convicted of disturbing the public peace (PPD), and the remaining charges of third degree assault and resisting arrest were dismissed as part of a plea agreement with the government.
Instead of revoking his probation and ordering him to serve the remainder of his suspended 5-year jail term, the defense attorney asked the court to modify the conditions of probation, to allow Mata to return home and continue to be a law-abiding citizen.
Although he was convicted of PPD, the defense attorney told the court there was no alcohol involved when police arrested his client.
The government’s attorney agreed with the defense’s argument to modify conditions of Mata’s probation. But she emphasized the seriousness of the defendant’s actions, when he resisted arrest.
The court reminded Mata that one of the conditions of his 5-year probation from three years ago was that he serve 20 months at the TCF.
“The court then ordered you to serve only 13 months in jail, and the balance of 7 months was stayed, based on your good behavior," the court continued. "The court urges you to comply with all other conditions of your probation, including being a law-abiding citizen.”
The judge said the court believes revoking Mata’s probation is not necessary at this time, and he will be given a chance to straighten out his life. The court then modified the conditions of his probation, and ordered him to serve the stayed period of detention — that of 8 months.
“Mata, it is our hope that we will not see you in court for another Order to Show Cause because your chances are running out,” the court concluded.
After the High Court sentenced Vitale Unasa two months ago to 28 months in the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF), as a condition of a 7-year probation term for embezzlement, he once again appeared in District Court earlier this month for a Probation Revocation hearing on another conviction.
The hearing was called by the Probation Office, which accused Unasa of not complying with conditions of his probation handed down by the District Court two years ago — he was convicted of driving under the influence (DUI). One of the conditions of his 7-year probation required him to be a law-abiding citizen.
During the hearing before the court, Unasa admitted that he made a terrible mistake and he is remorseful. He asked the court for forgiveness and a second chance.
The court reminded Unasa that during all three times he has appeared in District Court for DUIs, the court has always given him probated sentences, with deferred detention periods.
“You have no more chances right now. The court revokes your probation and orders that all periods of detention that were deferred will be served immediately,” the court told Unasa.
Neither of the attorneys knew exactly the amount of detention periods the court deferred for the defendant; but, the court ordered that whatever the number is, the defendant has to serve it all, and it will further run concurrently (at the same time) with the sentence that was handed down by the High Court two months ago.
The court also reminded Unasa that because he has been convicted three times of DUI, his privilege to drive in American Samoa was suspended for life a few years ago. And that decision is still valid.
“You are no longer allowed to drive any vehicle in the territory, for the rest of your life,” the court reminded the defendant.