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Young man jailed for 12 months awaiting trial, released on time served

American Samoa High Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man who was convicted of stealing was released from custody, after the court determined that the 12 months he spent at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) to await sentencing, was enough punishment.

Tasileti Aleluia, 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.

During sentencing, Aleluia apologized 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 anything stupid like this again. Please, I want to go home to my family,” said Aleluia, whose parents were present in court, and in tears.

Defense attorney asked the court to give Aleluia another chance, saying he’s only 23 years old and very immature. Attorneys from both sides agreed to a probated sentence.

The court noted that Aleluia, while young, has had a prior run-in with the law. “At the time it seemed minor… now you’re in the next level, 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,” the court warned.

Aleluia was sentenced to 5 years probation under certain conditions. He must remain law abiding and serve 20 months at the TCF. He is credited the 12 months he spent in pretrial confinement and the balance (8 months) is stayed as long as he complies with all conditions of probation. Aleluia is ordered to pay a $500 fine within 6 months, and find a job.