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Man looking to get immigration clearance — gets jailed

Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) sign

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man was arrested at District Court two weeks ago when he turned up to get an immigration clearance and the Court Clerk discovered that he had an outstanding bench warrant from 2018 for failure to appear in court for sentencing.

Tevita Apineru, 39, was placed under arrest and appeared before Judge Elvis P. Patea for a speedy hearing the same morning. When asked why he failed to appear in court for his sentencing on Dec. 18, 2018, Apineru stated that he forgot about this hearing. He further stated to the court that he thought his case was over because his defense attorney never contacted him after his last hearing in court.

He has been remanded to custody without bond until his next hearing on Nov. 24th.

According to court records, Apineru was arrested in May 2018 and charged with third degree assault, stealing and disturbing the public peace (PPD), all class A misdemeanors. In October 2018, he pled guilty to PPD under a plea agreement with the government. In return, the third degree assault charge was dismissed.

Apineru admits that on the day in question, he assaulted a man during a drinking session and yelled cuss words, thus committing PPD. After he assaulted the victim, he then took off with the victim’s wallet containing $209 cash.

He was to be sentenced Nov. 18, 2018; however, he was a ‘no-show’. Sentencing was then rescheduled and again, Apineru failed to appear. That’s when a bench warrant was issued for his arrest.

For his immigration status, the court was told the Apineru did not renew his immigration ID last year.

The court told the immigration officer who appeared in court to advise the court on the status of the defendant’s immigration status at the next hearing. The court wanted to know if Apineru could renew his immigration ID despite the fact that it’s been almost two years since he renewed his immigration ID.