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American Samoan man to serve 2 years in fed prison in ‘ice’ case

U.S. Federal District Courthouse in Honolulu
He was one of 14 defendants charged in a federal indictment last year

Honolulu, HAWAII — An American Samoan man, who was arrested in the territory last year and taken to Hawai’i by federal agents to face federal drug charges, has been sentenced to 2 years in federal prison, while another drug case against him has been dismissed.

Alapati Vaivai is one of 14 defendants charged in a federal indictment handed down Aug. 22 last year by a federal grand jury in Honolulu for an alleged drug trafficking case, which includes four other defendants with Samoan last names, according to court documents.

Vaivai was arrested in American Samoa and taken to Honolulu on Sept. 30, 2018, where he entered a ‘not guilty’ plea. Late last year, a superseding indictment was handed down against all defendants, who are currently going through several hearings.

Vaivai is charged with one count of “conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine”, according to court documents.

On Apr. 18th this year, federal prosecutors filed a separate case — charging him with two drug counts.

In May, Vaivai pled guilt to the separate case against him under a plea agreement with prosecutors, in which he pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine.

Penalties for the offense is a prison term of not less than 5 years and not more than 40 years and a fine, plus a term of supervised release of not less than 4 years and up to life.

As part of the plea agreement, the defendant agreed to — among other things — fully cooperate with the government in any other cases. In exchange, the government would move to dismiss the initial indictment against Vaivai, who appeared Aug. 29th for sentencing before US District Court Judge Leslie E. Kobayashi.

Records pertaining to the sentencing hearing on Aug. 29th were not publicly available until last Friday. Court record states that per request by prosecutors, the court dismissed the indictment against the defendant.

In the separate case, for which he pled guilty, Vaivai was sentenced to 24 months imprisonment followed by 3years of supervised release, according to the court’s Sept. 5th written sentencing order.

Information received by Samoa News indicates that the drug charges against the defendant were from when he was living in Honolulu, before returning to American Samoa sometime before August 2018.