High Court hears plea agreement in one drug case and grants subpoena in a second case
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 27-year-old man accused of unlawful possession of illegal drugs has entered into a plea agreement with the government. He will be sentenced August 2.
Ronald Alexander Pickering III, who is out on a $5,000 cash bond, appeared in court yesterday morning for a Change of Plea hearing. He is represented by Assistant Public Defender Rob McNeill, while prosecuting is Assistant Attorney General Doug Lowe.
Pickering was initially charged with one court of unlawful possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine), carrying a jail term of up to 20 years, a fine of up to $20,000 or both.
Under a plea agreement with the government, accepted by the court, Pickering pled guilty to the amended count one of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a class D felony, punishable by 5 years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000 or both.
Pickering admits that on Dec. 13, 2018 he had a glass pipe containing meth.
Pickering was released after he posted a $5,000 surety bond last December. In February this year, he tested positive for meth, and the government asked the court to revoke his bond release.
A hearing was held in March.
According to Probation, Pickering was taken into custody after testing positive for meth and weed. One of the conditions of his release on surety, was that he remain drug free at all times.
During bond hearing in March, Pickering’s attorney asked the court to modify conditions of his bond release, in lieu of revoking bond.
Chief Justice Michael Kruse granted the motion. Release was modified from a $5,000 surety to $5,000 cash bond.
Chief Justice Michael Kruse has granted the government’s request for a subpoena to allow their off island witness to testify during Cody Wood’s trial, set for July 8.
Assistant Attorney General Doug Lowe said one of the government’s witnesses is a DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) laboratory specialist who can’t make travel arrangements unless her boss sees a signed subpoena from the court.
This particular witness is the same person who examined and tested the drugs allegedly discovered by police when they raided Wood’s Taputimu home back in Nov. 2017
Wood remains in custody, unable to post a $200,000 surety bond.
The High Court granted a request from the defense to waive the presence of defendant Mao Uele, during a hearing yesterday morning.
One of the conditions of Uele’s release on bond is that she make all of her court appearances. When her case was called yesterday morning, Assistant Public Defender Rob McNeill asked the court to waive his client’s presence because she’s still off island for medical treatment.
McNeill indicated that an agreement is in the works, and he’s waiting for Uele to return.
Uele is charged with tampering with evidence, a class D felony, punishable by imprisonment of up to 5 years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000 or both.
The case against Uele stems from an incident in February of last year when the mother of a 9-year-old girl - the victim in a sexual abuse case - contacted police for help, saying Uele allegedly tried to convince her daughter to change her statements to police regarding the case involving a 67-year-old taxi driver who sexually abused her.
While out on bond, the court has ordered Uele not to make any contact with the young girl and her family.