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Young burglar released from custody with time served

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A young man convicted of burglarizing a home and stealing several items worth more than $2,000 was released from custody last week after the court decided that the 272 days he served while awaiting the outcome of his case was enough detention in this matter.

Tasi So’olefue, who was in custody since his arrest last year appeared in Court last week for sentencing.

So’olefue was initially charged with one count of stealing and one count of 2nd degree burglary, both felonies. However in a plea agreement with the government, accepted by the Court in January of this year, So’olefue pled guilty to 2nd degree burglary, a class D felony, punishable by imprisonment of up to 5 years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

When given the chance to address the court, So’olefue apologized for his crime and asked the court for a chance to return home to be with his family and seek employment to provide food for his parents and young siblings. He said he was truly remorseful.

The defense attorney asked the court for a probated sentence without any additional period of detention. He informed the court that his client has served 272 days at the jail while awaiting the outcome of his case, and that So’olefue takes full responsibility for what he did.

The prosecutor echoed the defense’s submission and told the court that the defendant is a suitable candidate for a probated sentence.

When questioned about the defendant’s immigration status, the court was told that the defendant’s ID was renewed by his mother, and that the only thing left is for the defendant to take his photo for his immigration identification (ID).

After reviewing submissions from both parties, along with the defendant’s statement and the Pre Sentence Report, the court stated that the defendant’s conviction stems from an incident where he unlawfully entered into a home and stole several items which cost over $2,239.

The good news is, according to the court, the stolen items were recovered by cops and returned to the owner.

Based on the information from the PSR, the defendant did not complete school, he was unemployed and living a simple life before he was arrested for his crime. While he was in custody, his family filed a motion at the immigration office to renew his immigration status. So now, according to the court, the defendant lawfully resides in the territory for another year.

So’olefue was sentenced to 7 years imprisonment. Execution of sentence was suspended and the defendant was placed on probation for 5 years subject to several conditions. He’s ordered to serve 20 months at the TCF. He will be credit for the 272 days he already served while awaiting his case. The court will defer the balance of detention. The defendant was released from custody forthwith after his sentence was announced.

He’s ordered to pay a $2,000 fine within the first 12 months of his probation. Other conditions include seeking and remaining gainfully employed.

The court reminded the defendant that there is a lot of detention time remaining on his probation — over 4 and half years — and if he violates any of the conditions of his probation at anytime he will serve the remaining period in prison.