Stealing and drug charges before the courts
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 39-year-old woman convicted of stealing a rental car while she was on probation for another stealing conviction back in 2018 was given another chance by the Court.
Mareta Finau appeared last week for sentencing and a disposition hearing.
She was initially charged with one count of stealing, for appropriating a rental car belonging to her aunt.
Under a plea agreement with the government, accepted by the court last month, Finau pled guilty to the amended charge of stealing, a class A misdemeanor.
By her guilty plea, Finau admits that on Oct. 12, 2021, she stole a rental car — by taking the keys without permission from her aunt who had rented it — and used it to transport stolen goods from her boyfriend’s house. She left the car and ran away after the man who owns the items that were stolen by her boyfriend attempted to stop the vehicle.
When given the chance to address the Court, Finau apologized for her actions and asked for one more chance to return home to care for her four young children and her parents. She promised the Court that she would never steal again.
“I want to be a good mother for my four young children and I will do my best to change my life and look for a job to provide for my children and care for my parents.
“I promise that I will never violate any laws of the territory in the future,” Finau said.
The defense attorney told the court that his client was a cashier at a local store before her arrest in October of last year, and that Finau is a good mother who provides for her young children. He also noted that his client is willing to pay restitution for the amount her aunt owes to the car rental agency due to her (Finau) actions.
The prosecutor echoed the defense’s submission saying that the defendant is a suitable candidate for a probated sentence.
According to the Court, the defendant is already on probation for 7 years after she was convicted for stealing in 2018. A condition of her probation was to remain law abiding. However, three years into her probation in October 2021, she committed another serious offense by stealing a rental car.
For stealing the vehicle, the defendant was sentenced to two years probation subject to several conditions including continuing employment at her current job to pay for the outstanding restitution and a fine from her previous case.
She was ordered to serve a period of detention of two months, which was time she has already served while awaiting the outcome of her case.
For her Disposition Hearing, the Court modified her probation; and, reminded her that if she violates any conditions of her probation, there would be no more chances for her.
A driver of a vehicle pulled over by police officers last month for a traffic violation is now facing drug charges.
Onosa’i Taulapapa was taken into custody when police discovered two small stamp-sized baggies containing a white crystalline substance, along with another small stamp-sized baggie containing a green leafy substance in his possession.
Taulapapa, the driver of a red truck, was pulled over by police for making a right turn without stopping at a stop sign. There was a passenger in the car.
The defendant was allegedly drunk, as officers detected a strong odor of alcohol coming from the his breath. Asked if he was drunk, Taulapapa instead replied, “Yes, and I also got some stuff on me.”
Officers then asked him to what stuff he’s referring; and Taulapapa replied, “Drugs”.
It was at that time the driver pulled out two small baggies containing a a white substance and handed them over to the officers. A pat down was initiated whereby one small stamp-size baggie containing a green leafy substance was found inside the driver’s rear pants pockets.
According to Taulapapa, he’s been dealing with his drug problem for over 3 months now and he wants to make changes in his life. However, in the middle of the interview with investigators, Taulapapa decided not to offer any more information regarding the incident.
He made his initial appearance in Court last month; and, is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine (meth) and one count of unlawful possession of THC/ marijuana.
Bail is set at $5,000.
Taulapapa is scheduled to appear in Court next Monday for his PX —preliminary examination.
A man accused of stealing checks from his former employer’s business last year has been released from jail to await sentencing, after the Court granted a signed plea agreement between him and the government.
Richard Levasa appeared in Court last week for a Change of Plea hearing.
Levasa, 34, was initially charged with three counts of forgery; three counts of stealing; one count of fraudulent use of a credit device; and one count of passing a bad check.
Under a plea agreement with the government, accepted by the Court last week, Levasa pled guilty to count 3 of the information, fraudulent use of a credit device, and count 4- stealing.
By his guilty plea, the defendant admits that on Sept. 30, 2021, he used a check, knowing it was stolen from his former employer’s business to purchase goods with a value over $100.
He further admits that on the day in questioned, he stole a check with the amount of $387.00 belong to his former employer’s business and cashed it to buy food, clothes and beer for his own benefit.
After the Court accepted the plea agreement, defense attorney asked the court to release his client on his own recognizance (OR) to await sentencing. He told the court that the victim in this case is his client’s former employer and he understands that the defendant’s wife has already paid the money back to the victims in the case.
The prosecutor echoed the defense’s motion.
The Court granted the motion to release the defendant pending sentencing. He said that there is no need for a stay away order from the victim in this matter because the defendant’s family has already apologized to the victim and the victim accepted it.
Sentencing is set for next month.
ROMEO AH SAN
A man convicted of resisting arrest, a class D felony was order by the Court to serve 20 months at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) as one of the conditions of his 5 years probation.
Romeo Ah San appeared in High Court last week for sentencing and apologized for his actions and pleaded before the court for a second chance.
The 25-year-old defendant from Samoa sped away in his vehicle when police tried to stop him. According to the Court, it was by the Grace of God that nobody was killed or injured by the defendant’s action.
Defense attorney asked the court for a probated sentence but the prosecutor said the defendant’s immigration I.D expired while in custody and the government doesn’t know why this defendant is still on island.
Ah San was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment and a $2,000 fine. Execution of the jail term was suspended and the defendant was placed on probation for 5 years subject to several conditions.
The Court ordered him to serve a period of detention of 20 months at the TCF, but he is credited for the over 8 months he served during his pretrial detention. In addition, the $2,000 fine was suspended by the Court based on the Ah San’s good behavior.