Father of 5 serving time for drugs released to seek employment
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A father of five convicted of unlawful possession of illegal drugs was released from the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) last month for 90 days to seek and secure gainful employment.
If Manuele Eteuati is unable to secure gainful employment, the court ordered him to report back to the TCF to serve the remaining balance of his period of detention.
Eteuati, who had been in custody unable to post his $5,000 surety bond appeared in court two months ago for sentencing, however, due to his outstanding traffic fine in District Court in the amount of $350, the High Court continued sentencing and ordered him to clear his outstanding traffic fine first before the court considers his sentencing.
Eteuati appeared in court last month for sentencing. This time, his defense attorney, Ryan Anderson informed the court that his client had paid his outstanding fine in full. It was confirmed by the government’s attorney.
After Eteuati apologized to the court, his defense attorney told the court that his client is truly remorseful for his actions and wanted to go home to seek and secure gainful employment to provide for his wife and 5 young children. Anderson then asked the court for a probated sentencing without any additional period of detention.
He said that his client has learned his lesson and he sees a lot of improvement in his client’s behavior since he’s been in custody.
The prosecutor seconded Anderson’s request and asked the court to adopt the recommendation by the Probation office through the Pre Sentence Report (PSR).
After considering mitigating factors from both parties, along with the defendant’s statement, the court sentenced Eteuati to 5 years imprisonment and a fine of $2,000. Execution of the sentence was suspended and he was placed on probation for 5 years subject to several conditions.
He is to undertake a period of detention of 20 months without any release per norm, including serving 223 days forthwith. He is credited for the time he served while awaiting the outcome of his matter.
Eteuati is also to be released for a period of 90 days in which he is to seek and secure gainful employment. Defendant was told that the cannery is hiring and that family farming is not considered gainful employment.
If unable to get a job, he’s ordered back to jail to serve the balance of his detention. He’s also subject to usual probation restrictions, including ‘staying clean’. The court also ordered him to make sure to pay his $2,000 fine.
Further, Eteuati is not to be considered by the Warden as a trustee, if he does go back to jail.
Of note, a traffic violation will also be considered another violation of conditions of his probation. Eteuati was originally stopped by traffic officers for driving a vehicle that had too many lights on the front end.