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Man given break again by court — after “speaking from his heart”

American Samoa High Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A male probationer convicted of meth possession was released from the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) last week, after the court sentenced him to time served, 145 days, one of several conditions of his 2-year probation term.

William Fonotumau, who was in custody since his arrest, unable to post a $5,000 bond, appeared in court last week for sentencing; however, after the court heard his statement, along with attorney submissions, the matter was taken under advisement until the following morning.

Fonotumau was initially charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a felony punishable by imprisonment between 5-10 years; a fine between $5,000- $20,000 or both.

But under a plea agreement with the government, Fonotumau pled guilty to unlawful possession of methamphetamine. With his guilty plea, Fonotumau admitted that in June of this year, he had on him 2 glass pipes containing meth residue.

According to the government, Fonotumau was arrested on the allegation that he disturbed the public peace. He was taken in for questioning and later escorted to the TCF. Upon arrival at the TCF front desk, Fonotumau was patted down. During a body search, 2 glass pipes containing a white crystalline substance, which later tested positive for meth were found in his pants.

Fonotumau told police the 2 pipes were given to his by a friend from Iliili. During a second interview, he told police he got the glass pipes from a man by the name of “Spunky” of Vaitogi, but he doesn’t smoke meth.

During sentencing, Fonotumau apologized and asked for another chance, so he can return home to care for his one-year-old child and make good use of his life. He told the court that his wife is currently residing in Alaska with another man and had left him and his son.

He also apologized for not complying with conditions of his probation from last year, saying he not only disrespected the court, but he also disgraced his family name; and he’s truly remorseful.

Fonotumau read to the court, his thoughts that were written on a piece of paper. “…If I am released, I will take care of my child and fulfill my fatherly responsibility. I will not commit any crime in the future, nor will I violate any conditions of my probation. I also promise to stop going out with my friends but to make good use of my time with my family.”

Defense attorney Rob McNeill asked the court to sentence his client to probation with the condition that he remain alcohol and drug free. He said his client is a young father who made a stupid mistake. The prosecutor echoed the recommendation in the Pre Sentence Report (PSR), to sentence Fonotumaul to probation with no additional period of detention.

The court was very impressed with Fonotumau’s statement, saying he spoke from his heart. The court said that based on the evidence, the incident involving the defendant was in part due to peer pressure.  

Fonotumau was sentenced to one year imprisonment. Execution of sentence is suspended, and he is placed on probation for 2 years subject to several conditions. He is to serve 145 days at the TCF, the same amount of days he’s already spent in jail. Fonotumau has been released from custody with the order that he remain alcohol and drug free.

For the Disposition Hearing on probation violation, the court opted not to revoke probation but instead, ordered that Fonotumau continue on with it, and comply with existing conditions.


Fonotumau was convicted of felony stealing in May of last year, and subsequently sentenced to 5 years probation under the condition that he serve 12 months at the TCF.

He was given a huge break by the court when he was credited the 5 months he served in pretrial confinement; the remaining 7 months were stayed, as long as he complied with conditions of probation. He was also ordered to pay a $500 fine within 7 months, and find a job.