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Fed denies Samoan drug defendant‘s request to withdraw guilty plea

Federal District Court Building in Honolulu, Hawaii

Honolulu, HAWAII — The federal judge in Honolulu has denied a Samoan drug defendant’s request to withdraw an earlier guilty plea and he is now set for sentencing later this month.

Jeremiah Ieremia pled guilty last year to three drug charges but earlier this year, through his new attorney, filed a motion to withdraw the plea, arguing among other things, that his former attorney, John Schum, “erroneously advised” him on the plea agreement and Schum had “grossly mischaracterized the law by advising... Ieremia that he would be sentenced to an agreed-upon amount of time.”

Prosecutors had objected to the defendant’s motion, arguing that Schum had informed the defendant, that the, “Court would consider relevant conduct and his prior criminal history in making its sentencing guidelines calculation, and also in imposing an ultimate sentence.”

Last Friday, US District Court Derrick K. Watson issued a 38-page decision, which denies Ieremia’s motion. According to court documents, “Ieremia has failed to show that his guilty plea was invalid, or that there is some other fair and just reason for its withdrawal.”

With the motion denied, the court then set Aug. 28 for Ieremia’s sentencing.

Ieremia is among the more than a dozen Samoans charged at the federal court in Honolulu. A total of 37 defendants are charge in six related drug trafficking cases, under separate indictments handed down in November of 2016.