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Career criminal back in court once again

American Samoa DIistrict Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man who is on probation for assault and stealing is now back in court on another stealing allegation. Police arrested Iairo Palesoo, also known as Iro Soo three months ago after he was released from the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) after serving a 20-month detention.

Palesoo, 35, made his initial appearance before District Court Judge Gwen Tauiliili-Langkilde. During his initial appearance, he asked the court for a preliminary examination (PX).

Palesoo is charged with unlawful possession of methamphetamine (meth) and unlawful possess of marijuana, both unclassified felonies, along with stealing, a class felony, punishable by imprisonment of up to 7 years, a $5,000 fine or pursuant to A.S.C.A , a fine equal to twice the amount of gain from the commission of said crime, up to a maximum of $20,000, or both such fine and imprisonment.

Bail is set at $20,000.

If he posts bond, Palesoo is ordered to remain law abiding, not leave or attempt to leave the territory without the court’s permission, and not make any direct or indirect contact with the government’s witnesses.


On June 25th, 2021, the couple who own a store in the Tafuna area walked into the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS) to report a crime committed by an unknown person, where he allegedly stole a laptop and an iPad from the store — taking it with him.

Two police officers were assigned to investigate the alleged crime and immediately headed to the store to investigate.

The woman (wife of the owner) from the store told investigators that a male individual with a tattoo on his right hand and left leg walked inside the store on the morning of June 24th and made his way to the area where the Display Table is located.

According to the wife of the store owner, the male individual approached her and requested the prices of the electronic items display on the table. Instead of offering the male individual assistance, she instructed one of her Samoan female employees to assist the customer.

The customer was later identified as the defendant in this matter.

A few moments later, the wife of the owner of the store observed her Samoan female employee, who she had assigned to assist the male individual, back at her usual location. She queried her employee and her response was, “I already assisted the man and he wanted to be on his own.”

According to the store owner, several items were on the Display Table including phones, laptops, tablets, iPads and other electronic accessories. Everyone who enters the store can have free access to the area where these electronic items are displayed because its an open area for customers to view the items for purchase.

According to the statement by the wife of the owner of the store, the perpetrator’s actions on the day of the alleged incident was recorded on video camera, which was noticed by a company representative  three days after the alleged incident and they immediately contacted police.

In the video, a laptop and iPad were stolen by a male individual.

Investigators were able to get a copy of the video footage from the store and viewed it, which confirmed the statement given by the owner’s wife who reported the matter to police. The person inside the video footage was later identified by one of the police officer as Iairo Palesoo, the defendant in this matter.

An arrest warrant was obtained from the court and two months later, Palesoo was apprehended from his older brother’s  home in Malaeimi and was transported to the TPS for questioning where he was Mirandized. Palesoo informed investigators he understood his rights and he wanted to tell his side of the story.

Palesoo told investigators that he was just released from Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) few months ago after serving 20 months at the TCF after he was convicted by the High Court for assault and stealing

Two months after his released, he went to the Tafuna area to meet his ex-wife and his son who is currently residing in Nuuuli with her new lover.

After waiting outside of the store for his wife and son for over an hour, he then decided to get something special for his ex-wife to impress her and encourage her to come back to him.

He entered the store and walked around for few minutes before he allegedly stole items from the store. When asked by investigators what items he took from the store, Palesoo said it was a laptop and a iPad.

He further told investigators that he has money on him that day, however, he didn’t want to use the money.

According to Palesoo, he sold the laptop to another woman for $100 but he gave the iPad to another female friend to use, and his female friend gave him $60 for the iPad. Investigators were able to retrieve the iPad and the laptop from the woman and the female friend of the defendant and give it back to the owner of the store who later confirmed that these were the two items stolen from the store.

Before Palesoo was taken into custody for questioning, he was patted down and during the body search, officers discovered two small stamp size baggies inside his shirt pocket. One baggie containing white crystalline substance while the other baggie containing a green leafy substance.

When asked about the substances found in his possession, Palesoo smiled and told officers, “the stuff belongs to me”.

The white crystalline substance was tested and the result were positive for meth, while the green leafy substance tested positive for THC, the active compound in marijuana.


It was during the PX where the government called their only witness to the stand, who was also the lead investigator in the case.

Working as a police officer for over 2 years now, the witness told the court that she received her training to become a police officer during the 26th Police Academy and on the job training.

The government witness told the court that it was revealed during her investigation that suspect went inside the store in the Tafuna area with the intention of stealing a laptop and a phone so that he could sell them to get money for himself.

In cross examination, defense attorney asked the government witness the reason why the case against his client was reported to police two days after the alleged incident. The witness told the court that the store only knew about the incident three days after when they viewed their camera footage.

Defense attorney asked the witness again how she was so sure that his client was the person of interest in this case. The government witness told the court that when the team of investigators viewed the video footage from the store, it was at that time a police officer who knew the suspect from his previous cases easily identified him from the video footage.

After hearing evidence of the case, the court found probable cause to bind Palesoo’s case to the High Court for arraignment.

Palesoo entered a not guilty plea to the charges against him when he appeared in High Court last month for arraignment.


According to court files, Palesoo was initially charged in two separate cases. One case charges him with 2nd degree assault.

In another case, Palesoo was slapped with several charges including 2 counts of stealing; 2 counts of 1st degree burglary and 1 count of 2nd degree assault.

Under a plea agreement with the government, Palesoo agreed to plead guilty to 2nd degree assault in the first case; and two counts of stealing and one count of first degree burglary in the second case.

In return, the remaining charges were dismissed.

With his guilty pleas, Palesoo admitted that on April 27, 2016 while he was inside a store in Nu’uuli, he assaulted a male employee of the store causing serious injuries to his head and body

He also admitted that one month later on June 20, 2016 he stole several electronic items including an Apple laptop and iPad, a computer scanner, and a Samsung tablet from another store in Tafuna. None of these items were recovered.

Palesoo was 28 years old when he appeared before the court for sentencing in August 2017. According to Probation, Palesoo had dropped out school since he was 11 years old.

In the first case where Palesoo was convicted of 2nd degree assault, he was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 5 years.

In the second case where the defendant was convicted to two counts of stealing and 1 counts of burglary in the first degree, the court sentenced him to a term of imprisonment of 7 years for each counts.

The defendant’s sentences were to run concurrent. Execution of sentences were suspended, and Palesoo placed on probation for 7 years under certain conditions.