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Court hears plea agreements

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 30-year-old man who is accused of stealing checks from a businessman and forging his signature has pled guilty.

Uati Lago was charged in two separate criminal cases.

In the first case, Lago was charged with stealing, forgery, and fraud, all felonies. For the second case, he was charged with attempted stealing and resisting arrest, all felonies — and two misdemeanor charges of third degree assault.

Under a plea agreement with the government, the defendant pled guilty to forgery, a class C felony; and resisting arrest, a class D felony. The remaining charges were dismissed.

Lago admits that on or about July. 28, 2018, he forged the signature of Lin Chi, the owner of Lin Mart store, on a check, and pretended he was ‘Chi’

He then cashed the check for his own personal use.

For resisting arrest, Lago admits that on or about Aug. 4, 2018 when he knew police were on their way to arrest him, he fled by driving away in his vehicle at a high rate of speed. According to Lago, his vehicle almost collided with other vehicles and pedestrians, who were crossing the road that day.

The Court accepted Lago’s guilty pleas, and noted that there were actual facts to support the case against the defendant.

Lago has been remanded back to custody to await his sentencing, which is set for Aug. 2, 2019.


A 53-year-old man accused of meth possession has entered into a plea agreement with the government.

Tau Ala appeared in High Court this week for his change of plea hearing. Prosecuting the case was Assistant Attorney General Doug Lowe, while Assistant Public Defender Rob McNeill represented Ala, who has been in custody since his arrest last year, unable to post a $5,000 surety bond.

Ala was initially charged with one court of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a felony punishable by not less than 5 years and not more than 10 years imprisonment, or a fine of not less than $5,000 and not more than $20,000.

However, under a plea agreement with the government, which was accepted by the Court yesterday, the defendant pled guilty to the amended lesser felony charge of unlawful drug possession.

With his guilty plea, the defendant admits that on Mar. 9, 2019 he possessed a glass pipe containing methamphetamine, and a stamp sized baggie containing methamphetamine residue.

According to court documents Ala was a passenger inside a vehicle when police pulled it over during a traffic stop for displaying the wrong license plate. The driver of the vehicle was later identified by police as Mareko Aleki, who is a co-defendant in this matter.

Sentencing for Ala is now scheduled for Aug. 9, 2019.

Associate Justice Fiti A. Sunia denied a motion by McNeill to release his client on his own recognizance awaiting his sentencing after the court accepted his guilty plea.