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Two brothers admit to drug possession

American Samoa High Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Two brothers accused of violating local drug laws have entered into a plea agreement with the government.

Tulifua Iosefo, 24, and Viane Tofamamao Ilimaleota, 32, appeared in High Court last week for their Change of Plea (COP) hearing. Both defendants were represented by Assistant Public Defender Rob McNeill, while prosecuting the case was Assistant Attorney General Doug Lowe.

Tulifua and Viane, who have been in custody since their arrest last year, were initially charged with unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a felony that carries an imprisonment term of between 5- 10 years, a fine of up to $20,000 or both.

But under a plea agreement with the government, accepted by the court, each defendant pled guilty to the lesser charge of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a class D felony, punishable by term of imprisonment of up to 5 years, a fine of up to $5,000 or both.

By their guilty pleas, both defendants admit that on Dec. 23, 2019, they unlawfully possessed methamphetamine. Viane admits that on the day of the incident, he possessed 2 small baggies containing methamphetamine. Tulifua on the other hand admits that on the day of the incident, he possessed a glass pipe containing methamphetamine.

After the Court accepted each defendant’s plea agreement, defense attorney asked the court to release his clients on their own recognizance pending sentencing. McNeill told the court that the brothers are not flight risks.

Prosecutor Lowe did not oppose the defense’s motion.

Chief Justice Michael Kruse granted the motion and released both defendants on their own recognizance, subject to the usual conditions with which they must abide, including submitting to random testing to make sure they’re in compliance with the stay clean ordered and not to go near the dirt road called “Le Filifili”, nor are they to hang out with people dealing illegal drugs.

After the court gave its order for the defendants, prosecutor Lowe informed the court that this would be his last appearance before the High Court as an Assistant Attorney General for the American Samoa Government.

He told the court that his contract will end on Tuesday of this week, Mar. 24, which is today, and he’s scheduled to depart the territory on Thursday this week if there’s a flight.

Lowe thanked Kruse for the time they worked together.

Kruse in return, thanked Lowe for his service to the people of American Samoa. He then wished him luck and a safe trip back home to Texas.

Sentencing for the two brothers is set for May 1, 2020.