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Courts hear car theft case, probation violation and another alleged 'meth' case

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man from Malaeloa accused of stealing a vehicle has entered into a plea agreement with the government.

Ishmael A. Sefo, who has been in custody since his arrest in 2018 appeared in High Court last week for a Change of Plea (COP) hearing.

Sefo was initially charged with stealing and fraud, both class C felonies, punishable by imprisonment of up to 7 years, a $5,000 fine or pursuant to A.S.C.A 46.2101, a fine equal to twice the amount of gain from the commission of said crime, up to a maximum of $20,000, or both such fine and imprisonment for each count.

Under a plea agreement with the government, Sefo pled guilty to stealing.

He admits that on May 2, 2018 he stole a vehicle belonging to Sione Lam Yuen and  the value of said vehicle is over $100. Sentencing is scheduled for Apr. 9, 2020.


A young man who violated conditions of probation by engaging in a fight has been ordered by District Court Judge Elvis P. Patea to serve a period of detention that was suspended from his previous case.

Filia Ume appeared in court last week for a pretrial conference for his new case. When his case was called, Assistant Public Defender, Bob Stuart informed the court that they have reached an agreement with the government. Ume has agreed to plead guilty to public peace disturbance - a class B misdemeanor - and the class A misdemeanor charge of third degree assault is dismissed.

With his guilty plea, Ume admits that in June 2019, he was involved in a fight with some young men from his village while he was under the influence of alcohol. Ume apologized to the court and begged for another chance to return home to care for his family and find a job to feed his children.

He also admits that his actions violated several conditions of his 24-month probation sentence that was handed down last year. The court granted the defendant’s guilty plea in the new case and sentenced him to 24 months probation.

For a previous case, for which he was placed on probation, the court revoked probation and ordered Ume to serve the 120-day detention period that was deferred when he was sentenced last year.


A 40-year-old man from Vaitogi, a repeat offender, appeared in court last week for another violation.

Faaleo Tufuga, who is on probation, was arrested last week on drug possession allegations. He made his initial appearance in District Court before Judge Elvis P. Patea.

Bail is $5,000.

If he posts bond, Tufuga is to pay an outstanding fine of $450, remain law abiding, not leave or attempt to leave the territory, and not make any direct or indirect contact with the government’s witnesses.

He is scheduled to appear in court this Wednesday for a preliminary examination

According to the government, Tufuga’s vehicle was pulled over during a traffic stop on Feb. 5th in Tafuna. Cops claim they noticed movement in the vehicle as they approached.

The affidavit says Tufuga looked nervous, his left hand was inside his pants pocket.

When officers asked what was inside his pocket, the defendant paused for a moment before saying, “o a’u ‘aisa sa faatau mai i la’u uo (my ice that I bought from a friend).”

Cops found during a body search of Tufuga, a baggie containing a white crystalline substance that later tested positive for meth. Also inside his pocket was a glass pipe containing a white crystalline substance which also tested positive for meth.

Tufuga told police he had just bought the stuff from a friend, whose identity he did not reveal.