Two men serving more time after probation violations
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 45-year-old man from Fagaalu who was convicted of driving with a permanently suspended license is going to jail. Adam Faalemiga, who has been in custody since his arrest on Sept. 9, 2019, unable to post a $5,000 bond, appeared in court last week where he was sentenced to 20 months at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF), as a condition of a 5-year probation term.
Faalemiga pled guilty to the initial charge under a plea agreement with the government. He admits that on Sept. 9, 2019 he operated a motor vehicle while his license was permanently suspended by the District Court. He had been convicted of driving under the influence three times previously.
When given the chance to speak, Faalemiga apologized and asked for another chance to return home to care for his family. He said he was driving to the market to drop off some bananas and other crops from his plantation to sell.
Defense attorney Rob McNeill asked the court for a probated sentence, saying he has already advised his client to find another way to transport his crops to the market to earn money for his family if he is released from prison.
He reminded to the court that despite his client's conviction, it is clear from the police report that there was no alcohol or illegal drugs involved when police pulled him over.
Prosecutor Laura Garvey echoed the defense motion for a probated sentencing, saying Faalemiga has shown true remorse. She however added that a period of incarceration is appropriate, so a message is sent out to other drivers whose licenses have been suspended, that the court will not take these issues lightly.
In delivering his sentence, Judge Elvis P. Patea told Faalemiga, “You took a big risk when you got behind the wheel, knowing that your driver’s license was permanently suspended by the court after you were convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol three times.”
“The only good thing in your favor, as stated by our defense attorney, is the fact that there was no alcohol or illegal drugs involved in this case, when police arrested you. Our sentence will reflect that."
Faalemiga was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment. Execution of sentence is suspended and he is placed on probation for 5 years under certain conditions. He is to serve 20 months at the TCF. After 12 months, which includes time served, the court will consider a motion for work release.
Faalemiga is not eligible for trustee status while at the TCF.
A 26-year-old man who is on probation was sentenced to 144 days at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF), after being convicted of resisting arrest, a class A misdemeanor.
According to court records, Taleni Uelese put up a struggle when officers tried to handcuff him. Uelese appeared in court last week for sentencing.
When given the chance to speak, Uelese apologized and asked for a second chance to return home and care for his elderly mother. He said he’s truly remorseful and he will not appear in court again.
Attorneys from both sides recommended probation, under the condition that Uelese is sentenced to time served, which is 144 days. The court accepted the recommendation.
Uelese is still in custody however, pursuant to an OSC (Order to Show Cause) from the High Court, for failing to comply with conditions of his 5-year probation, which was handed down earlier this year after he was convicted of unlawful possession of meth.