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Court agrees: Man convicted of DUI returning to Samoa

Chief Justice Michael Kruse

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Chief Justice Michael Kruse has granted a motion from a man serving a 10-month sentence who was caught driving while his license was permanently suspended because of a DUI conviction.

Peniamina Lolenese appeared in court yesterday morning on a motion to modify conditions of his sentence. He requested the court to allow him to depart the territory right away.

According to defense attorney Rob McNeill, Lolenese was sentenced to a 5-year probation, under the condition that he serve 20 months at the TCF. All but 12 months shall be stayed, and the defendant shall depart the territory upon serving 10 months behind bars.

McNeill said that so far, Lolenese has served almost 9 months of his 10-month term.

He added that last month, his client’s wife visited his office and asked for help. According to the wife, she was employed at the cannery but two weeks ago, she gave birth to their 5th child and now she no longer works. She stays home to watch the kids.

The couple agreed that the wife will return to Samoa with their 5 children, to await Lolenese’s return.

McNeill then asked the court for an early release for his client, so he can be with his family in Samoa and provide for them.

The government did not oppose the motion, which Kruse granted under special conditions.

First, Lolenese is to be released only to a Probation officer, who will transport him to his port of exit. Secondly, Lolenese is to remain outside of the territory for the duration of his probation, which is 5 years.

Kruse warned Lolenese that if he tries to re-enter the territory during probation, he will be charged with a new offense.