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60-yr-old man pleads guilty to reduced drug charges in 2 separate cases

American Samoa High Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 60-year-old man accused of violating local drug laws has entered into an agreement with the government.

Sonny Mika Kelemete appeared before Chief Justice Michael Kruse yesterday morning during a court proceeding to announce the global plea agreement.

Prosecuting the case is Assistant Attorney General Christy Dunn, while Assistant Public Defender Rob McNeill is representing the defendant, who is released on a $30,000 surety bond.

Kelemete is charged in two separate cases.

In the first case, he is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute, a felony; and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm, a class A misdemeanor.

For the second case, Kelemete is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute; and one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine — both felonies.

But under the global plea agreement, accepted by the court, Kelemete pled guilty — in the first case — to the amended count of unlawful possession of meth, a class D felony that carries a jail term of up to 5 years, a fine of $5,000 or both.

For the second case, he pled guilty to unlawful possession of meth with the intent to distribute, a felony punishable by up to 20 years behind bars, a fine of up to $20,000 or both.

With his guilty pleas, Kelemete admits that on July 07, 2017 he had in his possession a small stamp-sized baggie containing meth when cops pulled him over during a traffic stop.

He also admits that on Sept. 05, 2017 he had on him, 9 small stamp-sized baggies containing meth, intended for distribution.

In the plea agreement, the government contends that Kelemete was first charged with unlawful possession of drugs and a firearm, after cops found drugs and a weapon inside his vehicle.

He was released on a $5,000 surety bond after he made his initial appearance in District Court. Two months later, Kelemete was pulled over again in Iliili. This time, for loud noise coming from the vehicle’s muffler.

When informed about why he was pulled over, Kelemete’s demeanor changed. Cops tackled him to the ground to prevent him from running, and he was then placed under arrest.

K-9 units who were present conducted a sniff search of the vehicle. A canine alerted to the driver's side door, giving police probable cause to search the inside of the vehicle, and also the defendant.

A body search netted 9 small baggies inside his pants pocket that contained a white substance, which tested positive as meth. Several empty baggies and $90 cash were also found in Kelemete's pocket.

Both parties have agreed to recommend to the court, a probated sentence.

Kelemete will be sentenced Aug. 27th

Chief Justice Michael Kruse has ordered the government attorney to bring to court on that day, all evidence seized by police from this case, including the firearm. He further pointed out that Kelemete committed another crime while he was out on bond for his first case.