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Another Samoa citizen sentenced to depart the territory

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man who entered into a plea agreement in a drug case has been ordered to depart the territory and remain outside of its borders for the duration of his 5-year probation sentence. Talosaga Maiava appeared in High Court last week for sentencing.

Maiava, 40, who has been in custody since his arrest on Oct. 24, 2019, unable to post a $5,000 surety bond, was initially charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance (marijuana).

But under a plea agreement with the government, Maiava pled guilty to the lesser, amended charge of unlawful possession of marijuana.

With his guilty plea, Maiava admits that on the day in question, he had in his possession three marijuana joints when police searched his body after he was arrested for disturbing the public peace.

Maiava apologized to the court and asked for a chance to return to his family in Samoa, so he can find a job to care for his parents. He told the court that he came to American Samoa 8 years ago to seek employment to provide financial support for his parents and young siblings in Samoa.

He first worked at the cannery for 4 years before his uncle and his wife (his sponsor) decided to let him run the family mechanic shop. According to Maiava, that is when his life turned upside down after he made a wrong decision by hanging around with wrong friends, who do alcohol and drugs.

He said what he did was wrong and apologized to the American Samoa Government not only for breaking the law but also disobeying Immigration laws when he remained in the territory illegally.

Maiava’s immigration status expired 3 years before he was arrested.

Attorneys from both sides asked the court to adopt the recommendation in the Pre Sentence Report (PSR), and sentence Maiava to probation for 5 years.

Maiavai was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment, but execution of the sentence is suspended, and he is placed on probation for 5 years under the condition that he depart the territory immediately and remain outside of its borders for the duration of probation.

He was also ordered to serve 20 months at the TCF. He will be credited the 13 months he served in pretrial confinement. Upon completing of serving his period of detention, Maiava is ordered to depart the territory and remain outside of its border for the remaining period of his probation.

If a repatriation flight to transport home all the detainees from the neighboring island of Samoa who have already served their sentence at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) happens sometime soon — before the 20 months detention expires — the court orders that the defendant immediately depart the territory and the balance of his detention will be stayed.

However, if his period of detention expires before a repatriation flight happens, the defendant will be transferred to the custody of Immigration due to his illegal status.

The court has ordered that a copy of the court's decision be delivered to the Immigration Office to ensure that Maiava’s name is on the lookout list.