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Probationer is given 120 days to pay his court ordered fine

American Samoa High Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The High Court has given a bus driver 120 days to pay his $1,000 fine in full; otherwise, he will be found in contempt of court for failing to comply with conditions of his 2015 probation.

Siaosi Leati appeared in High Court this week for a Probation Review hearing.

According to a Probation report presented to the court, Leati is current with most of his probation conditions, including his alcohol counseling, and paying in full his $430 restitution. However, he has only paid $190 of a $1,000 fine.

Leati’s probation will expire in April 2020.

When asked to explain why he has not paid off his fine, Leati told the court that he has a lot of personal obligations to take care of first, such as family fa’alavelave and also supporting his family and paying bills.

The court reminded Leati that the reason the court had stayed the remaining period of his detention, after he served only 6 months, was to give him the opportunity to find a job so he can pay his fine and restitution.

“Are you telling the court that your fa’alavelave is more important than the fine?” Chief Justice Michael Kruse asked Leati who replied, “No, the court is my first priority.”

Leati immediately apologized and said he had already spoken to the Probation officer about his fine, and they agreed that he will make a payment of $120 per month.

“Your agreement with the Probation Office is not binding on this court. Once the court orders you to pay your fine, you have to comply with it. I’m giving you 120 days to pay your fine, if you fail, I’ll hold in contempt,” Kruse concluded.

Leati’s next court appearance is Dec. 20th for a Status Hearing.