Two stealing cases in High Court; District Court hears PPD and immigration issues
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 20-year-old man who was convicted of stealing was released from custody last week, after the High Court determined that the 8 months he served at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF), to await sentencing, was enough.
Faavae Faumuina, under a plea agreement with the government, pled guilty to the amended charge of stealing, a class C felony, punishable by not more than 7 years imprisonment, and/or a fine of not more than $5,000.
With his guilty plea, Faumuina admits that sometime during January last year, he misappropriated properties that belonged to another person.
During sentencing, Faumuina apologized to the government, the court, and people of American Samoa for his behavior and asked for forgiveness.
“I didn’t mean to break the law; unfortunately, I made a mistake and I can't take back what happened. This is coming from a man who is truly remorseful. I promise I will never do any stupid thing like this again. Please, I want to go home to my family,” Faumuina said.
His father and his grandmother, both present in court, were in tears when Faumuina apologized.
Deputy Public Defender Rob McNeill asked the court to give Faumuina another chance. He said his client is only 20 years old, very immature, and he has advised him to think about his future.
McNeill said his client is a suitable candidate for probation. Prosecutor Laura Garvey echoed the statement.
Associate Justice Fiti Sunia said that while Faumuina is only 20, the pre-sentence report shows that he's had a prior run-in with the law.
“At the time it seemed minor and the punishment that was ordered in those cases also seemed minor… now you’re in the big league, so the offenses are no longer considered minor, and the punishment will no longer be minor, and you ought to keep that in mind as you go forward,” Sunia told the defendant.
Faumuina was placed on probation for 5 years under certain conditions. He has to remain a law abiding at all times, visit the probation office once a month, and serve 12 months at the TCF.
“You will be credited the 8 months you have already served; the balance of 4 months will be stayed as long as you comply with all conditions of your probation,” Sunia told Faumuina, who was also ordered to pay a $500 fine within 4 months, and secure gainful employment.
A 42-year-old man who is accused of stealing checks from a businessman and forging his signature has pled guilty.
Sosene Taulago is charged in two separate cases.
In the first case, he is charged with stealing and fraud, both felonies. For the second case, he is charged with stealing, resisting arrest, third degree assault, and trespass.
Under a plea agreement, Taulago pled guilty to forgery, a class C felony; and resisting arrest, a class D felony. The remaining charges are dismissed.
Taulago admits that on or about Mar. 28th, 2018, he signed a check from K&K Store in Tafuna without the owner’s permission. He further admits that he forged the signature of the owner of the store, on the check, and pretended he was the owner.
For resisting arrest, Taulago admits that on the Mar. 30th, he ran away from police when they stopped by his mechanic shop to arrest him.
The court accepted Taulago’s guilty pleas and he has been remanded back to custody to await sentencing, set for May 28
A man who has a pending matter in the Family, Drug and Alcohol (FDA) court was arrested over the weekend and charged with criminal contempt.
Sipaia Vivi made his initial appearance in District Court yesterday morning before Judge Pro Tem, Gwen Tauiliili-Langkilde.
According to the government's case, police got a call for assistance on Saturday, Mar. 30 in Seetaga, reporting that Vivi was drunk and disorderly.
A police dispatcher claimed to have heard "people yelling and shouting profane words and children crying" in the background.
Cops who responded to the call say they heard people screaming from several houses down when they approached the area. A search of the suspect was carried out, at his home, which is near the ocean.
An officer shined his flashlight at the shore and spotted Vivi standing at the end, "as if he was getting ready to jump into the ocean," according to court documents.
A police officer called out to Vivi to "come up" but Vivi allegedly called back to the cop, "No, I'm leaving."
Vivi then jumped into the ocean and started swimming. One of the cops was trying to make his way down to the edge of the shore but at the same time, the suspect's children were crying out loud. When Vivi heard heard this, he yelled back at the cops, telling them he was "coming back."
He then swam back to shore and turned himself in.
Vivi was transported to the DPS Leone Substation for further questioning.
According to a witness who spoke to police, Vivi came home and started screaming at everyone in the house. The witness said it has become a habit for Vivi to come home and shout profanities at everyone.
When a female family member told Vivi to tone it down, Vivi turned around and started a verbal argument with her. Vivi was cussing at her, her kids, and other members of the household.
Vivi reeked of alcohol and according to what the witness told police, his behavior is always like this when he comes home intoxicated.
An intoxicated man who was picked up by cops last Saturday, Mar. 30 and charged with public peace disturbance and resisting arrest has been released on his own recognizance, under standard conditions.
Mike Tolia made his initial appearance in District Court yesterday morning. His next court appearance is May 3.
According to the government's case, the alleged disturbance occurred in Faleniu. When police arrived, Tolia allegedly had fled but was being chased by another male on the roadside. Cops pulled up alongside Tolia who "continued to walk away".
Court documents state that Tolia raised his hands up and continuously said that what he did was in self defense. Cops noted that Tolia sustained a laceration on his left eyebrow.
A witness told police that Tolia was drinking with some friends near the scene and when he walked into his uncle's home, he heard his girlfriend "laughing loudly" in the presence of others and this made Tolia upset.
Court documents say Tolia then yelled profanities and shouted a Samoan war cry inside the house. Tolia's uncle and cousin "attempted to calm" him down but Tolia "became more aggressive," according to the criminal complaint.
He ran out of the house when he heard his uncle calling the police.
According to investigators, Tolia resisted when handcuffs were being placed on his wrists and he "attempted to flee but was blocked" by two officers.
Tolia was transported to the hospital via ambulance and treated in the LBJ Emergency Room before he was taken back to custody at the TCF.
ESERA FATA LOLE
A status hearing to resolve immigration issues is set for Friday, Apr. 5 for a man charged with public peace disturbance.
Esera Fata Lole appeared in District Court yesterday morning and was released on his own recognizance. Conditions of release include maintaining the peace at home and in Vaitogi village. He is also not to leave or attempt to leave the territory without prior written permission from the court, and he is to remain drug and alcohol free.
Judge Pro Tem, Gwen Tauiliili-Langkilde has ordered that both the defendant and his sponsor appear in court this coming Friday.
According to the government's case, police got a call for assistance from Vaitogi, regarding an intoxicated man making unreasonable noises and swearing out loud.
A witness told police that he awoke from his sleep because the defendant was making so much noise. He said he observed another man approaching Lole and telling him to stop but Lole didn't. Instead, he challenged the man to a fight.
The witness said that he, too, tried to approach Lole but Lole's friends escorted him back to where they were drinking.
The witness said Lole continued to cuss and make noise from outside the apartment complex. He approached Lole a second time, but was stopped by Lole's friends.
When officers found Lole, he was sitting outside a shack behind the apartment complex, still drinking.
Lole was apprehended and taken into custody to await the next sitting of the District Court.