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Father of 4 admits to probation violation — smoking meth

American Samoa High Court building


Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A father of four was arrested again last month on the allegation that he violated conditions of his 5-year probation, which was handed down by the High Court 3 years ago.

Ula Pelema, who has been in custody since his arrest two weeks ago pursuant to an arrest warrant, appeared in High Court last week for a preliminary examination. Pelema told the court that on Nov. 13, 2021 when he came in for his monthly visit to Probation, he took a drug test and it came back positive for methamphetamine (meth).

He said he smoked meth two days prior while working on his plantation. The court wanted to know more about Pelema’s actions that day.

Pelema said he smoked ice so he could gain strength to help with his daily routine.  According to Probation, this was the same excuse Pelema used when he tested positive for meth last year, on July 20, 2020. Pelema was remanded to custody without bail. A disposition hearing is set for next month.

Court records note that on May 13, 2019, Pelema was ordered by the High Court to serve out the remaining 11 months of his prison term, although he was allowed to work during government work-hours.

Pelema was convicted of assaulting a man from Futiga with a metal pipe.

In September 2018 he was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment, but execution of the sentence was suspended and he was placed on 5 years probation, with several conditions, which included serving 20 months behind bars, paying $2,000 and attending and completing alcohol and drug counseling.

Pelema only served 11 months at TCF before he was released and the court waived the remaining 9 months, as long as he complied with conditions of probation. He was also subject to random alcohol and drug testing, and obligated to visit Probation once a month. It was during a Probation visit last year that Pelema tested positive and was taken into custody.

At his probation review hearing in 2019, Pelema apologized and sought a chance to remain out of jail so he could be with his family. He promised he would not violate any more conditions of his probation.

Pelema was told during that hearing that the court had not forgotten the seriousness of his crime; but nonetheless, Pelema was given another chance.