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Guilty pleas entered in two cases; bench warrant issued in a third

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 40-year-old man accused of using a sharp weapon to cause head injuries to a neighbor has pled guilty.

Fa’avae Tagaloa was initially charged with felony first degree assault, punishable by life in prison or at least 30 years in jail; but under a plea agreement with the government, Tagaloa pled guilty to second degree assault - still a felony - but punishable by no more than 5 years imprisonment, a fine of not more than $5,000 or both.

With his guilty plea, Tagaloa admits that sometime on July 02, 2018 he caused serious injuries to another man by using a sharp metal piece to hit him on the head several times. Tagaloa remains in custody at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF).

According to terms of the plea agreement, Tagaloa had just arrived home from work when he was approached by a family member who informed him that his nephew was assaulted by their 24-year-old neighbor.

Out of anger, Tagaloa went to his neighbor’s home in an effort to locate the man behind the assault. Tagaloa punched him in the face before striking his head with a sharp piece of metal several times.

The victim sustained a big cut on his head and was admitted to the LBJ Hospital where he spent 8 days in the Surgical Ward before he was released. According to the hospital report, 16 stitches were needed to close the cut on the victim’s head.

The government is recommending probation and restitution of $856.03 to cover the victim’s medical bills.


A 26-year-old man accused of selling marijuana joints at the cannery last year has pled guilty.

Detectives from the DPS Vice & Narcotics Unit arrested Calvin Paulo Jr. on June. 22, 2018 after receiving information from StarKist Samoa employees that a man was selling drugs to cannery workers.

Paulo Jr. was initially charged with two felonies: unlawful possession of a controlled substance (marijuana), and unlawful possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.

Under a plea agreement with the government, Paulo pled guilty to unlawful possession of a controlled substance (marijuana). The remaining charge was dismissed.

With his guilty plea, Paulo Jr. admits that on June 22, 2018 at the StarKist Samoa compound in Atu’u, he had in his possession a small bag containing 22 marijuana joints. He further admits that on the day he was arrested, he sold some of the marijuana joints to cannery employees.

Associate Justice Fiti Sunia asked the defendant what he did with all the marijuana joints he had, Paulo Jr. said he sold it to cannery workers.

 As part of the plea agreement, the government is recommending probation. Paulo Jr. remains in custody at the TCF, unable to post a $10,000 bond.

Sentencing is set for May 30 at 9 a.m.


The High Court issued another bench warrant last week for yet another defendant accused of not complying with conditions of probation.

The Order to Show Cause (OSC) hearing for Aletise Brown, also known as “Browny” was scheduled for last week, after the Probation Office filed a revocation motion in court, when Brown failed to comply with several conditions of release.

According to the Probation Office, Brown was sentenced about a month ago. He came in to their office about 2 weeks later and provided a urine sample, which turned positive for marijuana and methamphetamine.

Associate Justice Fiti Sunia asked the defendant’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Rob McNeill whether he had a chance to communicate with his client, and McNeill said no.

Sunia then issued a bench warrant. Attorneys from both sides did not object.

“Marshal, find this man and hold him in custody until his next court appearance,” Sunia said.

During sentencing last month, following a conviction for unlawful possession of marijuana, Brown was ordered to remain alcohol and drug free.

As a condition of his 5-year probation, Brown was ordered to serve 20 months at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF); however, after the court accepted the attorney’s submission and the defendant’s apology, the court ordered the defendant to only do 4 1/2 months in prison, which he already served during pretrial confinement. The remaining 15 1/2 months was stayed.

During sentencing last month, Sunia told Brown that the only reason the court accepted his apology was because he mentioned something about going back home to care for his sick father’s sister.

“We can allow you another chance to go home but we’re not sure whether you will be going back to your same old lifestyle if we grant you a second chance. And if you go back to your old lifestyle and the police find you again with some drugs, the government will spend its resources to take care of you,” Sunia told the defendant.

Brown was arrested after police found 3 glass pipes containing methamphetamine in his possession.