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Father of four convicted for illegal drugs given a chance to provide for his family

TCF — Territorial Correctional Facility sign

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A father of four convicted of unlawful possession of illegal drugs was released from the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) for 90 days to seek and secure gainful employment.

If Alatonu Finau 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.

Finau, who had been in custody unable to post his $5,000 surety bond appeared in court at the beginning of last month for sentencing, however, due to his outstanding traffic fine in District Court in the amount of $450, the High Court continued sentencing and ordered him to clear his outstanding traffic fine first before the court considers his sentencing.

Finau appeared in court last week for sentencing. This time, his defense attorney informed the court that his client had already paid his outstanding fine in full.

When given the chance to address the court, Finau apologized for his actions and begged to the court for a second chance to return home to provide for his family especially his wife and three young children.

He told the court that he’s truly remorseful and he had learned his lesson while living in jail for 6 months. He also told the court that he doesn’t want to go back to his old life.

The court asked Finau whether he understands the reason police searched him; and he replied, yes.

The defense attorney told the court that his client is truly remorseful for his action and wanted to go home to seek and secure gainful employment to provide for his wife and 3 young children. McNeill then asked the court for a probated sentencing without any additional period of detention.

The government’s attorney seconded the defense attorney’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 Finau 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 shall undertake a period of detention of 20 months without any release unless for a genuine medical reason or by order of the court. Execution of detention is as follows: Finau shall serve 180 days forthwith, credited for the time he served while awaiting the outcome of his matter.

Defendant shall be released for a period of 90 days in which time he shall secure and seek gainful employment. Defendant was told that for sure the cannery is hiring and he must remember that family farming is not considered gainful employment.

If Finau is unable to secure gainful employment, the court ordered him to report back to the TCF and serve the rest of his detention. The court also ordered him to make sure to pay his $2,000 fine.

He is also subject to the usual probation restrictions, including not consuming nor possessing alcohol or illegal drugs; and he must submit himself for testing to make sure he’s in compliance with the stay clean order.

If he’s going to report back to the TCF to serve the balance of his detention, Finau is not to be considered by the Warden as a trustee.

The court also ordered that Finau make sure to comply with all the traffic laws. The court stated that recently, the defendant was caught by police and cited for having too many lights on his vehicle. He was further told by the court that non compliance with any of the traffic rules would be considered as another violation of conditions of his probation.