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Man held in custody almost 3 years awaiting drug trial — finally pleads

American Samoa High Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man accused of violating local drug laws has entered into a plea agreement with the government.

Vise Guata, who has been in custody since his arrest two years ago appeared in court Wednesday morning for a Change of Plea hearing.

Gauta was initially charged with unlawful possession of methamphetamine; and unlawful possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute. But under a plea agreement with the government, accepted by the court, Gauta pled guilty to a lesser, amended charge.

In court, Gauta admitted that on Sept. 20th, 2018 he unlawfully possessed a glass pipe containing methamphetamine. The remaining charge against Gauta was dismissed under the plea agreement.

Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 5, 2021.

Defense attorney, Ryan Anderson asked the court to release his client on his own recognizance pending sentencing. He told the court that his client has served almost 3 years while awaiting the outcome of his case. The motion was denied by the court.

The court reminded Anderson that the defendant has a long criminal record in the court system and he’s not new to the court.

Gauta was remanded back to the TCF awaiting his sentencing.