Co-defendant in Pago Pago drug bust is sentenced to 10 years in prison
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — One of the co-defendants in the 2018 Pago Pago raid whereby police confiscated a huge quantity of drugs, paraphernalia, and cash, is going to jail.
Lyon Grey was sentenced to serve 10 years at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF).
Prosecutor, Doug Lowe told the court that drugs are contributing to the increase in the crime rate in the territory, affecting not only the lives of young people but also many families.
Grey, who has been in custody since his arrest, unable to post a $50,000 surety bond appeared before Chief Justice Michael Kruse yesterday morning for sentencing. He was represented by Assistant Public Defender Rob McNeill.
Grey was initially charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine; one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute; one count of unlawful possession of marijuana; and one count of unlawful possession of marijuana with intent to distribute - all felonies.
But he pled guilty to the amended charge of unlawful possession of methamphetamine; and the amended charge of unlawful possession of marijuana — both class D felonies — under a plea agreement.
Grey admits that on May 15, 2018 in Pago Pago, he had on him a baggie containing meth, and on the same date, police found on him a baggie containing marijuana.
When given the chance to address the court, Grey apologized to the court and asked for a second chance to return home to be with his family. He also apologized to his family and the people involved, specifically his co-defendant Sio Godinet who was arrested because of him.
Grey told the court that Mr. Godinet had nothing to do with the drugs found in his Pago residence. “All the drugs that were confiscated by police belonged to me,” Grey said.
Kruse interrupted and asked if Godinet is a co-defendant in this case, to which Lowe said yes. Kruse then turned to Grey and said, “You’re not the lawyer for Mr. Godinet. Mr. Godinet has his own lawyer. It appears to the court that you’re trying to testify on behalf of Mr. Godinet. Let Mr. Godinet speak for himself.” Kruse told Grey that Godinet will not get any credit from his testimony at all.
When he was allowed to continue, Grey said he’s truly remorseful and he has learned his lesson. Defense attorney McNeill told the court that Grey is young with a bright future ahead of him. He then asked for a probated sentence.
Prosecutor Lowe however echoed the recommendation in the Pre Sentence Report (PSR) that probation is not a suitable sentence in this matter. He reminded to the court the seriousness of the defendant’s crime, and the fact that drugs are on the rise in American Samoa.
Kruse said the only decision the court can impose in these matters is to send everyone involved to jail. Grey was sentenced to 5 years each for unlawful possession of meth, and unlawful possession of marijuana — to run consecutively — meaning it’s a 10-year straight sentence.
Kruse told Grey to take his pleas for a second chance to the Parole Board for consideration.
In Feb. 2018, police were tipped off about a home in Pago Pago allegedly housing a drug business. The ringleader was alleged to be Sio Godinet Jr. (co-defendant) and the operation involved two others: Meriko Lomu and Lyon Grey, the defendant.
A confidential informant told police that there was heavy traffic to the house, mainly at night, and he was among those who bought weed and meth from his very home. The CI reported seeing money and drugs being exchanged between Godinet and buyers.
Before Godinet’s house was raided, a controlled buy was organized by police in April 2018. The CI was given cash to buy drugs from Lomu, who was with Godinet in Godinet’s vehicle when the controlled buy took place.
Lomu allegedly took the cash from the CI, and gave the CI a small baggie of weed in exchange. A search warrant was later issued for the two-story structure belonging to Godinet. The May 15th search netted drugs and paraphernalia in an empty room on the first floor. Police found 10 grams of marijuana, a huge amount of meth, and paraphernalia such as 4 glass pipes with meth inside, 2 glass pipes containing marijuana, several empty small baggies, cut-up straws, and cash.
Godinet was not in the room where the drugs were found. Instead police found him in his primary home a few feet away from the two-story structure, without any drugs on him. It was Grey and Lomu who were in the room where the contraband was found. When arrested, Grey refused to speak to police.