Almost 3 years later, court decides drug case for mother of two

ausage@samoanews.com

After nearly three years, the High Court finally issued a decision in the case of a 26-year-old woman who was found with a glass pipe used to smoke “ice” or methamphetamine, hidden in the crotch of her pants.

April Peric, a mother of two, was initially charged with two drug offenses: unlawful possession of the controlled substance methamphetamine, and unlawful possession of the controlled substance methamphetamine with the intent to distribute. However, under a plea agreement with the government, the defendant pled guilty to the lesser of the two felony charges, and the other was dismissed. With her guilty plea, the defendant admits that sometime in Dec. 2014, she was in possession of a pipe that is used to smoke methamphetamine. After her arrest, Peric spent 68 days behind bars before she posted bail ($50,000) and was released. During sentencing, Peric apologized to the court and asked for another chance to be with her children and family.

“I feel embarrassed but mostly disappointed that I’ve brought shame to my family. My actions have taken me away from my children. I tried my best to raise my children at the time, also sup- porting my mother and my siblings,” Peric said, adding that the incident that led to her arrest was right after she had gotten out of a relationship.

She said that although this is not an excuse for the choice she made, she takes full responsibility for her actions and she knows that being involved with drugs was an inappropriate reaction to her break-up. Peric said that since her release, she has been attending church and spending a lot of time with her family. Her attorney, Public Defender Douglas Fiaui asked the court to uphold the Probation Office’s recommendation for a probated sentence, to give her another chance to get her life together and continue being with her children and family. Fiaui said Peric is a young mother with two young children who need her everyday.

Assistant Attorney General Robert Morris supported Fiaui’ s argument, saying the government believes Peric is a suitable candidate for a probated sentence, and the court will manage her probation, which will give her time to change her life and address her drug problem.

Acting Associate Justice Elvis P. Patea said it’s not often that judges see letters that speak highly of a person who appears before the court for sentencing. “It speaks in your favor Mrs. Peric,” Patea said, adding that it took so long for the case to come to court and the defendant has been free for more than 2 years, which is a good amount of time for the court to see what kind of person the defendant would be if she was placed on probation.

“To your credit, it’s been almost 3 years and you have stayed clean. You’ve shown that you can be a good contributing member of society. That’s what counts in sentencing — not somebody who comes in and promises us all sort of things. But make no mistake, this court will never take drug cases lightly, even if it is only possession,” Patea said. Peric was sentenced to 5 years probation, with conditions that include serving 20 months. She is being credited for time served which, according to the Probation Report, is 68 days, and the balance of the 20-month detention period will be stayed as long as she complies with all conditions of probation, over the next five years. Other conditions of probation include not consuming alcohol or any type of illegal sub- stance. She is also to submit herself for random alcohol and drug testing.

The court has given her 6 months to pay a $1,000 fine, and a month to clear all outstanding warrants and fines at the District Court.

Peric’s legal troubles started after she was pulled over for operating an illegal spotlight (headlight) on the vehicle she was driving in the Lepuapua area; she wasn’t able to provide a driver’s license or any other ID. The police impounded the vehicle and during an inventory search, detectives discovered a package above the passenger-side visor wrapped in a clear material, and the contents appeared to be a crystalline substance.

In the trunk was a blue plastic container with items such as glass pipes, a regular smoking glass pipe, fluid lighters and small cut-up straws (commonly used for packaging of illegal drugs for sale). Located inside the armlet of the vehicle was $341 in cash. Peric was present during the inventory search. Court filings say she consented to a search and police discovered two glass pipes, one in the waistband of her pants and the other concealed in the crotch of her pants. A fluid lighter was also hidden under her clothing.

The glass pipe that was found on Peric tested positive for meth.

Comment Here