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Drug offender who missed his court date is now held without bail

Territorial Correctional Facility, TCF

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA —  A man who failed to appear in High Court for sentencing two weeks ago was arrested this week pursuant to a bench warrant from the court. Sierra Isaia, who was convicted of meth possession, made his initial appearance in High Court yesterday.

During a recap, District Court Judge Elvis P. Patea noted that Chief Justice Michael Kruse issued a bench warrant for Isaia’s arrest after he failed to appear on Oct. 11, 2019 for sentencing. Several conditions of Isaia’s release on bond required him to make all of his court appearances and stay in close contact with his attorney.

“Why did your client fail to appear in court during sentencing?” Patea asked defense attorney Rob McNeill. who explained that Isaia was late to court that morning, because he had to take his sick son to the hospital, and he showed up after the arrest warrant was issued.

McNeill asked Patea to quash the warrant and allow Isaia to continue on bond release to await sentencing. Prosecutor Laura Garvey opposed, saying this wasn’t the first time Isaia failed to appear in court, and therefore, he should be held in custody without bail until sentencing. Patea agreed, saying Isaia’s file notes that Kruse issued an arrest warrant with a no bail status.

Isaia will remain in custody until he is sentenced on Nov. 1st


Isaia was charged in two separate cases. In the first case, he was charged with one count of unlawful possession of meth with the intent to distribute; and one count of unlawful possession of meth, both felonies. In the second case, he was charged with one count of unlawful possession of meth. Under a global plea agreement with the government, accepted by the court, Isaia pled guilty to the amended count of unlawful possession of meth in both cases.

Isaia admitted that on Aug. 26, 2017, he had on him a glass pipe containing meth, and while released on bond to await the outcome of his first case, he was arrested Dec. 11, 2017 for possession of a glass pipe containing meth.

Isaia’s vehicle was pulled over for a loud muffler. During a body search, drugs were found on him. A bench warrant for his arrest was issued after he failed to appear Dec. 1st for a pretrial conference. On Dec. 11, 2017, police found Isaia during a routine patrol, and again, drugs were found on him, which resulted in the second case being filed.

After the court accepted the global plea agreement last month, McNeill asked if Isaia could continue on bond release, saying his client hasn’t missed any court hearings and he works hard for his wife and child. Isaia was released on a $15,000 cash bond when he was first arrested on Aug. 26, 2017. When he was arrested again on Dec. 11, 2017 bond was set at $2,000 cash, which he later posted.

Kruse granted the defense motion with one additional condition: Isaia has to sign in at the Probation Office every Monday, and he has to remain clean at all times. Kruse emphasized that ‘clean’ means no alcohol or illegal drugs in his system, and in his possession. “If you don’t sign in every Monday, not only are you going to jail, but the court will take your $17,000 immediately. So, abide by this order,” Kruse told Isaia.