Court decides on probation violation, plea agreement and sentencing
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man who violated conditions of his 5-year probation, which was handed down last year, has been ordered to serve out his suspended sentence — which is 20 months.
Kaleti Faavae appeared in court last Friday for a disposition hearing where he apologized and begged for another chance so he can return home and start a new life. He told the court that he has alcohol and anger problems that need to be addressed.
He also blamed the problems that affected his marriage, as reasons why he acts out. He promised to be a good person if given another chance, and he’ll look for a job to take care of his 4 young kids.
Defense attorney Rob McNeill asked the court to modify Faavae’s probation, instead of revoking it. He said Faavae is truly remorseful and wants to go home. Prosecutor Doug Lowe, however, argued for probation revocation. He asked that Faavae be ordered to serve out his suspended sentence of 20 months, because he disobeyed the court’s order and this is the only way for him to learn a lesson. The court agreed.
Faavae appeared in court last month for a preliminary hearing on the allegation that he failed to comply with the probation condition requiring him to be law abiding. He was placed on probation last year, following a January 2018 conviction for unlawful discharge of a firearm and second degree assault. As a condition of his 5-year probation, Faavae served 4 months at the TCF.
A few months after sentencing, Faavae assaulted a man and as a result, was convicted in District Court of third degree assault. He also pled “no contest” to careless driving in another case, and was sentenced to 120 days at the TCF.
The High Court has taken under advisement a plea agreement between the government and Reupena Taito, who is scheduled to appear in court next month.
Taito was initially charged with one count each of second degree burglary and stealing — both felonies; but under the plea agreement, he agreed to plead guilty to stealing. In return, the burglary charge will be dismissed.
With his guilty plea, Taito admits that on the evening of Nov. 14, 2018 he broke into a home and stole $3,000 cash. But in the plea agreement, which was read in court during a change of plea hearing, Taito objected to the provision that he stole $3,000. The agreement also states that he broke into his sponsor’s home on Nov. 14, 2018 and stole more than $100 in cash.
Taito remains in custody.
A 25-year-old man who was convicted of stealing was released from custody last week, after the High Court determined that the 16 months he served at the TCF to await sentencing is enough.
Iasoni Mikaele, under a plea agreement with the government, pled guilty to the amended charge of stealing, a class C felony, punishable by not more than 7 years imprisonment, and/or a fine of not more than $5,000.
With his guilty plea, Mikaele admits that sometime during February 2019, he misappropriated properties belonging to another person. During sentencing, he apologized to the government, the court, and people of American Samoa and asked for forgiveness. “I didn’t mean to break the law; unfortunately, I made a mistake and I can't take back what happened. This is coming from a man who is truly remorseful. I promise I will never do any stupid thing like this again. Please, I want to go home to my family,” Mikaele said.
Deputy Public Defender Rob McNeill asked the court to give Mikaele another chance, saying his client is truly remorseful and takes full responsibility for his actions.
McNeill said Taito is a suitable candidate for probation; and prosecutor Laura Garvey agreed.
Mikaele was placed on probation for 5 years under certain conditions. He has to remain law abiding, visit Probation once a month, and serve 20 months at the TCF. “You will be credited the 16 months you have already served; the balance of 4 months will be stayed as long as you comply with all conditions of your probation,” the court told Mikaele, who is also ordered to pay a $500 fine within 4 months, and find a job.