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High Court deals with a number of pending cases

American Samoa High Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — High Court sets sentencing date for DUI felony driving defendant and remands accusted probation violators back to custody.


The 40-year-old man accused of operating a vehicle although the court had permanently suspended his license was in High Court last week for a Change of Plea hearing.

Peniamina Lolonese, who's been in custody since his arrest last October, was represented by Assistant Public Defender Rob McNeill while prosecuting the case was Assistant Attorney General Laura Garvey.

Lolenese was initially charged with felony driving with a suspended license, a class D felony, punishable by imprisonment from 90 days up to 5 years, and a fine of up to $5,000 or both, and driving while under the influence of alcohol (DUI), a class A misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment of up to 1 year, a fine of up to $1,000 or both.

However, under the plea agreement, Lolenese pled guilty to felony driving with a suspended license. The remaining charge was dismissed.

With his guilty plea, Lolenese admits that on the night of Oct.1, 2018, he was pulled over by police because of expired vehicle tags. He also admits that when he was pulled over, his license had been permanently suspended due to a prior DUI conviction.

Both sides recommended probation for Lolenese, who will be sentenced Apr. 12


A young man who has a pending case in District Court appeared in High Court yesterday morning for a preliminary hearing, on the allegation that he violated conditions of his probation.

James Taito, through his attorney Assistant Public Defender Rob McNeill, admitted to the probation violation. The defense counsel told the court that Taito failed to pay his fine, he didn't seek gainful employment, and he didn't visit Probation as required.

Chief Justice Michael Kruse told the defense that probation revocation is not based on the District Court’s sentence, but will be based on the facts of what happened.

He said he didn't want Taito to testify to something that is connected to his pending District Court matter.

“What did you do?” Kruse asked the defendant. Taito replied, “I did not visit the Probation office every month, I did not pay my fine, and I did not look for a job.”

Kruse told Taito that the reason why he was placed on probation, was to give him the chance to re-adjust his life and have a good future.

The court found that Taito violated conditions of his probation and he was remanded back to custody. His next court appearance, a disposition hearing, is set for Apr.26.


A young man who is on probation in High Court made his initial appearance before Judge Elvis P. Patea last week, pursuant to an arrest warrant from the Probation Office, on the allegation that he failed to comply with conditions of his five-year probation.

Tie Jeffrey Lomon, who has three pending cases in District Court, was represented by Assistant Public Defender Rob McNeill while prosecuting the case was Assistant Attorney General Christy Dunn.

Last week, Lomon's attorney told the court that his client denies the allegations that he violated conditions of his probation. McNeill said all three pending cases against his client are only allegations.

The 'not guilty' plea was acknowledged by the court, and Lomon's preliminary hearing is set for Mar. 7 at 8:30am.

Lomon, 23, was first arrested on Oct. 5, 2018 for his alleged involvement in a possible break-in at a residence in Lauli’i. When questioned by police, Lomon said he was looking for somewhere to sleep because his dad kicked him out of the house.

Four weeks later in November 2018, Lomon was arrested again on allegations that he was drunk and disturbed the public peace in his village. Then in Jan, 2019, Lomon was arrested again, accused of looking through a window of a home.

Lomon is still in custody unable to post a $500 bond.