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Court accepts marijuana defendant’s plea agreement


Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The 43-year-old man accused of violating local drugs law when he brought a small quantity of marijuana inside his luggage as he entered American Samoa has admitted to his wrongdoing.

Iosefo N. Sagote was initially charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance (marijuana), a class D felony; and an attempt to import a controlled substance into the territory, a class A misdemeanor.

Under a plea agreement with the government this week, Sagote pled guilty to the amended charge of unlawful possession of a controlled substance (marijuana). The remaining charge was dismissed.

With his guilty plea, Sagote admits that earlier this year in January, he had in his possession a pipe, made out of foil, containing a small quantity of marijuana inside his luggage when he arrived at the Pago Pago International Airport.

As part of the plea agreement, the government is asking the court to sentence Sagote to 5 years probation, without any jail time at the TCF.

The court has accepted the defendant’s guilty plea, and sentencing is set for Oct. 5, 2018.


Sagote was arrested after a Customs agent at the airport — during a routine search at the arrival terminal — found a foil pipe with marijuana inside Sagote's luggage.

On May 11, 2018, Sagote waived his right to a preliminary examination and his case was bound over to High Court. He appeared in court on May 14 for arraignment. One of the conditions of his release, after posting a $2,000 cash bond, was that he remain drug and alcohol free.

On June 29, 2018 Sagote appeared for his pretrial conference. Immediately afterwards, the defendant was ordered by the probation office to take a drug test. Sagote allegedly tested positive for marijuana, and he was immediately arrested and transported back to the TCF to await his initial appearance in High Court for a probation revocation hearing.

According to a report from the Probation Office, the defendant allegedly admitted that he smoked marijuana three weeks prior to the test.

Sagote appeared in court last Friday for his preliminary examination on the allegation that he violated conditions of his release when he tested positive for marijuana.

When his case was called, Uiagalelei informed the court that the matter has been resolved between the defense and the government. He then asked the court to quash the Order to Show Cause (OSC) for his client in this matter. Kruse smiled and told Uiagalelei that he will not quash the OSC unless he grants a resolution from both parties.

Uiagalelei said they have reached an agreement with the government, and Sagote is prepared to change his plea.

On Monday this week, Sagote appeared in court and his guilty plea was accepted.