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Another domestic abuse case in court —may stem from “ponesi” scheme

American Samoa District Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The 45-year old man who was accused of assaulting his wife at home in Vaitogi village while he was heavily intoxicated, told police that the reason he did this was because she misused money to play money games such as “Ponesi” instead of using it wisely to feed their children.

When he was apprehended by police, illegal drugs were found in his possession.

The defendant spent one night at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) before making his initial appearance in District Court two weeks ago.

He is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, an unclassified felony, along with two misdemeanor charges of 3rd degree assault and private peace disturbance.

Bail is set at $5,000.

If he posts bond, the defendant is ordered to find another place to stay, and refrain from making contact with his wife.


The case was reported to police by the victim’s mother, who noticed bruises on the victim’s face early Saturday morning. Asking her daughter what happened, the victim replied that her husband had beat her up the night before, but she didn’t want to report the matter to police because she didn’t want to lose him — as he is the father of her four young children and the only person working to support their family.

The mother decided to report the matter to police.

When questioned by police officers, the victim stated that she’s not blaming her husband for what he did to her because, her husband provides money for their children’s food, but she uses it to play “Ponesi” (bonus lucky numbers) every week.

The victim further stated to police that this is not the first time she’s used up money that was supposed to feed her children to pay for her bonus lucky number. She recalled one incident that occurred in October of last year where she won $300 from her ‘bonus lucky number’ and she spend it all for her children’s stuff such as clothes, shoes and food.

The government claims the alleged domestic violence incident happened on Friday night when the defendant heard from their neighbors that there are nights his wife leaves their children in the care of one of their neighbors while going to pay for her bonus lucky number to another woman at the Fagatogo Market. The defendant is an employee of StarKist Samoa and he has worked the night shift for over 10 years now.

When the defendant confronted his wife about the money on Friday afternoon, the wife admitted that she used some of the money to pay for her bonus number. The defendant then left the house and returned home very intoxicated and while his wife and children were asleep, the defendant allegedly assaulted his wife.

Early Saturday morning while the defendant was sleeping at his shack at the back of their house, four police officers approached him and asked if he could come to the Tafuna Police Substation to discuss the incident involving him and his wife.

The defendant attempted to resist but cops quickly apprehended him and placed him inside a police unit. Before he was transported to the police station for questioning, he was patted down and during a body search, police discovered a glass pipe containing white crystalline substance inside his shirt pocket.

When asked about the glass pipe, the defendant told police that be bought the glass pipe from another man in front of an Asian store in Nu’uuli. He further stated that he was very disappointed with his wife and how she spent money set aside for his children’s food.