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Young man convicted of stealing serves 14 months while awaiting sentencing

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 23-year-old man who was convicted of stealing was released from custody last week, after the High Court determined that the 14 months he served at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF), to await sentencing, was enough.

Alatise Kolio, 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, Kolio admits that sometime during September last year, he misappropriated properties that belonged to another person.

During sentencing, Kolio 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,” Kolio said.

His father and his grandmother, both present in court, were in tears when Kolio apologized.

Deputy Public Defender Ryan Anderson asked the court to give Kolio another chance. He said his client is only 23 years old, very immature, and he has advised him to think about his future.

Anderson said his client is a suitable candidate for probation. Prosecutor Laura Garvey echoed the statement.

Associate Justice Fiti Sunia said that while Kolio is only 23, 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.

Kolio 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 14 months at the TCF.

“You will be credited the 14 months you have already served; the balance of 6 months will be stayed as long as you comply with all conditions of your probation,” Sunia told Kolio, who was also ordered to pay a $500 fine within 6 months, and secure gainful employment.