Court tells high school probationer to graduate or “ you will be sent to jail for up to 12 months”
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — “You need to finish school and graduate this year because if you’re not going to graduate, you’re in violation of your 12-month probation, and you will be sent to jail for up to 12 months. Make sure you abide with all the conditions of your probation including the curfew the court has imposed, obey your parents and don’t you ever mess up with the law again,” this was the warning from District Court Judge Elvis P. Patea to a 18-year-old student from Tafuna High School (THS), who was convicted of stealing items from Tafuna Elementary School in July of last year.
Calvin Aigamaua, who is a senior at Tafuna was initially charged with one count of felony stealing, and he appeared in court on Wednesday afternoon for his preliminary hearing. However, prosecutor Jason Mitchell informed the court that the government is looking at amending the charge against Aigamaua, from felony stealing to misdemeanor stealing.
Mitchell explained to the court that based on the information the government received, all the items that were stolen by the defendant were returned to the school. This was confirmed by the defendant’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Bob Stuart.
Furthermore, Mitchell informed the court that they also reached an agreement with the defendant, where he agreed to the single misdemeanor stealing count, under the recommendation that he will be sentenced to a 12-month probation without any jail term.
When asked about their agreement with the government, Aigamaua, who appeared in court in his school uniform told the court interpreter he did not understand what the Judge had said to him.
“Do you understand the terms of your agreement with the government,” Patea asked the defendant, and the defendant responded in Samoan, “I don’t understand your question.”
Patea shook his head and looked at the defendant’s attorney and asked. “Where is your translator?” Stuart responded that his translator is busy with other work.
After a brief recess, the defense attorney was able to communicate with his client again, with the help of the clerk interpreter, so that Aigamaua was able to understand what was going on in his case.
When he was questioned again by Patea, Aigamaua told the court that he understands the terms of the agreement with the government, and he wished to enter a guilty plea to the stealing charge.
Patea accepted Aigamaua’s admission and sentenced him to a 12-month probation with special conditions, including a curfew. He has to be inside his parent’s house from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. and he is ordered to pay a fine of $120.