Plea agreement continued in drug case involving foreign national
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The sentencing of a woman convicted of violating local drug laws is continued for two weeks after Associate Justice Fiti Sunia ordered that the defendant’s sponsor needs to be present when the court addresses the issue of the defendant’s departure from the territory as a condition of her probation.
Rosemarie Siale, who is a foreign national, but has lived in American Samoa for many years, appeared in court yesterday morning for sentencing. She is represented by Assistant Public Defender Rob McNeill while prosecuting the case is Assistant Attorney General Kristie Soule.
Siale was initially charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, an unclassified felony punishable by imprisonment from 5-10 years, a fine of up to $20,000, or both. However, under a plea agreement with the government, accepted by the court two months ago, Siale pled guilty to the amended charged of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a class D felony, punishable by imprisonment of up to 5 years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
By her guilty plea, Siale admits that on Jan. 8, 2020 she had a glass pipe containing methamphetamine in her pocket when police pulled over a vehicle she was riding in. A male who was driving is the co-defendant in this matter.
When given the chance to address the court, Siale, who has been in custody since her arrest unable to post a $5,000 surety bond, apologized to the court for her action and begged for another chance to return home to care for her young children. She told the court that the has learned her lesson while living in prison for over 6 months now and she realizes that breaking the law is not a good thing.
She promised the court that she would never appear in court again.
Defense attorney, McNeill asked the court for a second chance for his client, saying that she was found with a small quantity of methamphetamine. McNeill also informed the court that his client has taken full responsibility for her actions and she’s truly remorseful for what she did.
Prosecutor Garvey asked the court to adopt the recommendation made by both parties during the plea agreement to allow the defendant to depart the territory and remain outside of its border for the duration of her probation.
After a brief recess, Sunia informed both parties that sentencing for Siale would involve an arrangement for departure of the defendant and also the sponsor’s obligation under the Immigration Statute.
Sunia then continued Siale’s sentencing for two weeks and ordered the defendant’s sponsor to be present in court. The court was told that the defendant’s sponsor is her own brother.
Sunia stated that the court would issue a subpoena for the sponsor to appear.
The court also wanted to know what happened to the gun that was allegedly involved in this case. Garvey informed the court that the handgun that was allegedly discovered by police during the traffic stop belonged to the co-defendant in this case. The co-defendant’s case is still pending, and the handgun is in the custody of the Department of Public Safety (DPS).
Siale is scheduled to appear in court on July 21st for sentencing.
Siale was previously convicted by the High Court for conspiracy to commit fraud, and was sentenced to 5 years probation with the condition that she serves 20 months at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF).
She was one of the co-defendants involved in a Driver’s License scam at the Office of Motor Vehicles (OMV) in 2009. Siale received a fake driver’s license after she paid money to a former OMV employee.
In 2015 charges against co-defendants in that case, Filifa’atali Mike Fuiava and Marie Ripley were dismissed without prejudice (meaning it can be refilled).
According to Samoa News archives Ripley was charged in connection with the issuance of a forged driver’s license for a female identified at the time as a Tongan national, and faced counts of forgery, possession of a forging instrument, and public servant acceding to corruption, while Filifa’atali was charged with tampering with physical evidence and hindering prosecution.
ASG moved to dismiss this matter without prejudice in June 2015 on the basis, among others, that through the passage of time, the government was unable to maintain its case against the defendants based on evidentiary reasons.