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Man convicted for assaulting a minor will be deported

American Samoa High Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man convicted for assaulting a 17-year-old boy with a broom handle was ordered by the court to depart the territory and remain outside of its borders as a condition of his 5-year probation. He will depart the territory once flights between the two Samoas resume.

Ben Lalau who has been in custody since his arrest in January of last year unable to post a $5,000 surety bond appeared in High Court two weeks ago for sentencing.

Lalau, an overstayer, was originally charged with 2nd-degree assault, the charge he pled guilty to is a class D felony, punishable by imprisonment of up to 5 years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

When given the chance to address the court, Lalau apologized for his action and begged for a second chance to return home to his wife and children. He also told the court that he felt truly remorseful for what he did.

The court sentenced Lalau to 5 years imprisonment and a $5,000 fine. Execution of sentence was suspended, and the defendant was placed on probation for 5 years subject to several conditions.

He shall serve 20 months in jail without any release whatsoever. Upon release from detention, Lalau must immediately depart the territory and remain outside of its borders for the remaining period of his probation.

The court stated that based on the information provided by Probation, the defendant was here on a visitor permit.

The court ordered that once the defendant finished serving his detention, he would only be released to the Probation Office and then transported to his port of exit.

Furthermore, the court ordered that the certified copy of the Judgment and Sentence must be served on the Chief Immigration Officer or his assignee to make sure the defendant’s name is on their lookout list.


The arrest was made in January 2021, one week after New Year, when Lalau and four of his buddies were drinking in front of a house.

According to the criminal complaint, when it started raining, Lalau and his friends made their way into the home. At that point, his 17-year-old niece and the victim, who is a boy from the neighborhood, were talking in the front of the house.

Lalau did not like his niece talking to the victim because he had heard that the victim and his two older brothers were allegedly involved in drugs.

Lalau called out to his niece to come home and she did. However, the victim yelled out to Lalau, saying that he had no right stopping him from talking to his niece because he’s not her father.

Lalau got mad and walked over to the victim’s house, where he allegedly grabbed a broom with a steel handle and went to strike the victim in his back, while he was not looking. However, the victim turned around in time and put his elbow up to shield himself from the second strike, which caused injuries to his arm and head.

The defendant’s third swing missed the victim who dashed out of the house and sought refuge at the neighbor's home, from where a woman contacted police for assistance.

When cops arrived at the scene, they heard the victim's side of the story and EMS personnel were contacted to render medical assistance. Lalau was nowhere to be found.

Police were able to apprehend him two days after the incident.