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Court Report: Man driving with permanently suspended license goes to jail

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 52-year-old man from Fagatogo who was convicted of driving with a permanently suspended license is going to jail. Paulino Seuale, who has been in custody since his arrest, unable to post a $5,000 bond, appeared in court last week where he was sentenced to 20 months at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF), as a condition of a 5-year probation term.

Seufale pled guilty to the initial charge under a plea agreement with the government. He admits that on Dec. 29, 2021 he operated a motor vehicle while his license was permanently suspended by the District Court. He had been convicted of driving under the influence three times previously.

When given the chance to speak, Seufale apologized and asked for another chance to return home to care for his family. He said he was driving to the market to drop off some bananas and other crops from his plantation.

The defense attorney asked the court for a probated sentence, saying he has already advised his client to find another way to transport his crops to the market to earn money for his family if he is released from prison.

He reminded the court that despite his client's conviction, it is clear from the police report that there was no alcohol or illegal drugs involved when police pulled him over.

The prosecutor echoed the defense motion for a probated sentencing, saying Seufale has shown true remorse. She however added that a period of incarceration is appropriate, so a message is sent out to other drivers whose licenses have been suspended that the court will not take these issues lightly.

Seufale was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment. Execution of the sentence was suspended and he was placed on probation for 5 years under certain conditions. He is to serve 20 months at the TCF. After 12 months, which includes time served, the court will consider a motion for work release.

Seufale is not eligible for trustee status while at the TCF.


Faatali Pele, who is on probation, was sentenced to 112 days at the TCF, after being convicted of resisting arrest, a class A misdemeanor.

According to court records, Pele put up a struggle when officers tried to handcuff him. Pele appeared in court last week for sentencing.

When given the chance to speak, Pele apologized and asked for a second chance to return home and care for his elderly mother. He said he’s truly remorseful.

Attorneys from both sides recommended probation under the condition that Pele is sentenced to time served, which is 112 days. The court accepted the recommendation.

Pele is still in custody however, pursuant to an OSC (Order to Show Cause) from the High Court, for failing to comply with conditions of his 5-year probation, which was handed down earlier this year after he was convicted of unlawful possession of meth.


Police arrested a man from Happy Valley last month, for the alleged sexual abuse of a 16-year-old girl. The man, who is the victim’s uncle, made his initial appearance in District Court last month. He is charged with first degree sexual abuse, a class D felony; and endangering the welfare of a child, a class A misdemeanor.

Bond is set at $25,000 with a preliminary examination for next week. The court has denied a defense motion to reduce bond to $5,000.

To protect the identity of the victim — a minor — Samoa News is withholding the defendant’s name.


The matter was reported to authorities by the victim’s aunt last month. Police who responded spoke to the caller, and the alleged victim and her mother. According to the government, the man lives next door.

The defendant was not home when police arrived in the area. Neighbors told investigators that he took off when he saw police units heading towards the victim’s home.

According to the victim’s statement to police she went to her uncle’s house and asked for her father’s hammer that he had borrowed two days prior. It was when she went inside the house to get the hammer that she was touched inappropriate by the defendant.

The victim told investigators she tried to escape because she could smell alcohol and she also saw empty beer bottles in the trash bin.

In the affidavit, police noted that the victim was confident throughout the interview process. But when she mentioned the inappropriate touching, she began to tear up.

When questioned by police, the defendant strongly denied the allegation against him. He said he didn’t see the 16-year-old victim at his home the whole day. He further said the reason the victim’s family is making false accusations is because they want him off the land and out of the family property.

Court record show the defendant was convicted in District Court in 2011 for 3rd- degree assault for touching a woman inappropriately. He was placed on probation for 12 months.


A man who entered into a plea agreement in a drug case has been ordered to depart the territory and remain outside of its borders for the duration of his 5-year probation sentence.

Taumate Faamili appeared in High Court last week for sentencing.

Faamili, who has been in custody since his arrest on Oct. 14, 2021, unable to post a $5,000 surety bond, under a plea agreement with the government, pled guilty to the lesser, amended charge of unlawful possession of marijuana.

With his guilty plea, Faamili admits that on the day in question, he had in his possession two marijuana joints when police searched him.

Faamili apologized to the court and asked for a chance to return to his family in Samoa, so he can find a job to care for his parents.

His immigration status expired two years before he was arrested.

Attorneys from both sides asked the court to adopt the recommendation in the Pre Sentence Report (PSR), and sentence Faamili to 5 years probation.

Faamili was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment, but execution of the sentence was suspended, and he was placed on probation for 5 years under the condition that he depart the territory immediately and remain outside of its borders for the duration of probation.

He was also ordered to serve 20 months at the TCF. He will be credited the 13 months he served in pretrial confinement and the balance is stayed until further order of the court.

The court has ordered that a copy of the court's decision be delivered to the Immigration Office to ensure that Faamili’s name is on the lookout list.


A man accused of being armed with a pocket knife after he allegedly assaulted another male, was arrested last month.

Willlie Lautafi made his initial appearance in District Court last month.

The Court established bond for Lautafi at $500.

According to the government’s case, a woman called for police assistance regarding a fight at her Malaeimi residence last month.

As two police units tried to enter the gate to the woman's house, cops observed a male running behind the house. The woman identified the male as the person who came at her husband with a pocket knife.

Lautafi was arrested found to be heavily intoxicated. According to the reporter, Lautafi is her cousin who lives in Tafuna, but he was visiting her due to her daughter’s birthday party.

During the party, Lautafi yelled profanities at her husband; and while her husband tried to calm him down, he allegedly punched him in the face twice. He then pulled out a pocket knife, which was inside his pocket and pointed it at the woman’s husband. That was when the woman called police for assistance.


A man taken into custody last month for allegedly using a sharp object to stab another man has been released by the court on his own recognizance, after the government was unable to file additional charges against him.

According to court information, Saipeti Poulima was charged with public peace disturbance and third-degree assault, both misdemeanors.

He made his initial appearance earlier this month in District Court.

Poulima was held without bail, to await the government's filing of additional charges last week, as police were still investigating the case. However,  the court was told that no additional charges would be filed.

With that said, the court released Poulima on his own recognizance and his next court date is Dec. 14.

According to court information, the incident took place in Tafuna. Witnesses told police that Poulima allegedly used a broken piece of glass to stab the victim’s head. The victim was rushed to the hospital.

While the motive for the alleged stabbing remains unclear, witnesses told police the incident occurred during a drinking session.


A man is now being charged for violating local laws after police discovered drugs inside the vehicle he was driving.

Frank Uatisone is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine (meth), made his initial appearance in District Court last month. Uatisone also has an outstanding warrant.

Bail is set at $5,000.

During his initial appearance, Uatisone’s attorney asked the court to quash the two bench warrants the court issued as Uatisone was unaware of his court hearings.

The court reminded Uatisone that whenever he is ordered to appear in court, it’s his duty to make the court his first priority.


According to the government, police stopped a truck in the Nu’uuli area for false plates last month.

Police impounded the vehicle and later discovered a clear glass pipe with a usable amount of meth inside. An inventory of the vehicle further uncovered two glass pipes containing a crystalline substance, and several empty small baggies commonly used to package meth, on the passenger side of the vehicle.

Two people were inside the truck when it was pulled over: a male driver, later identified as Tipasa Lomi and Uatisone, who was in the passenger seat.

The driver had no identification on him at the time of the traffic stop. Police  discovered that the vehicle was registered to Uatisone, who had a driver’s license that expired two years ago.

Lomi and Uatisone were interviewed separately at the TPS.

Lomi is alleged to have told police that there was another glass pipe that Uatisone hid under his seat. Officers went back to the vehicle to check and found a glass pipe containing meth.

He also told investigators he had no knowledge of the glass pipe and drug paraphernalia that were found inside his vehicle, and everything belonged to Uatisone.

The driver, Lomi, was cited for driving a vehicle with false plates, and later released pending an investigation.

When confronted by police, Uatisone verbally stated that he didn’t know who owned the glass pipes that were found inside the vehicle, saying he borrowed the vehicle from the owner last week to deliver his taro and bananas to the market and he asked his friend Lomi to drive the truck because he was not feeling well.

Uatisone refused to provide a written statement.

The crystalline substance from the clear glass pipe discovered on Uatisone tested positive for meth.