Man pleads guilty to possession of meth and weed
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man accused of dealing drugs in the territory has pled guilty to amended charges.
Pierce Suapilimai, who has been in custody since his arrest last year - unable to post a $50,000 surety bond - appeared before Associate Justice Fiti Sunia yesterday morning for a Change of Plea hearing.
Suapilimai was represented by Assistant Public Defender Ryan Anderson, while prosecuting was Assistant Attorney General, Doug Lowe.
Suapilimai was initially charged in two separate cases.
In once case, he was charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine) with intent to distribute; unlawful possession of methamphetamine; and unlawful possession of a controlled substance (marijuana) - all felonies - and a misdemeanor charge of unlawful possession of a firearm.
In another case, Suapilimai is charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance (marijuana), and stealing - both felonies.
Under a plea agreement with the government, Suapilimai pled guilty to the amended count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine); and an amended count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance (marijuana) - both felonies - in the first case.
He admits that on Sept. 10, 2017 he unlawfully possessed meth and marijuana when police searched a house where he was hanging out. He further admits that the search netted a bag of marijuana; two hand rolled marijuana joints; cash; a firearm; numerous straws that contained meth; numerous paraphernalia; and a notebook detailing the money he received from selling drugs.
For the second case, Suapilimai pled guilty to the amended count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance (marijuana).
With his guilty plea, Suapilimai admits that on Apr. 16, 2018, he had on him two marijuana joints.
According to terms of the plea agreement, a warrant was issued by the court to search Suapilimai’s home, after a woman who was found with drugs in her possession told police that the drugs were from Suapilimai, who gave her meth to sell.
After the plea agreement was read aloud in open court, Sunia asked Suapilimai if he admits to the allegations, to which the defendant said yes.
Suapilimai told the court that the notebook that was found by police inside the house was used to keep records of the drugs he sold and the money he received.
During court proceedings, Sunia asked Anderson if the Public Defender’s Office still employs 2 Samoan men as investigators and translators. Anderson said they only have one translator at this time, and he’s assisting some of their clients in District Court.
Sunia explained that the reason why he was asking, was because Suapilimai needed someone to assist him, as far as translating the terms of the plea agreement.
“Our court translator was not hired to carry out such services for your client. That’s your office’s responsibility,” Sunia told Anderson.
Suapilimai’s Change of Plea hearing was postponed from last week, after he informed the court that he didn’t understand the terms of the plea agreement. According to Suapilimai, the plea agreement was not clearly explained to him, and his attorney ‘rushed’ the process.
Suapilimai is set to appear on Aug. 8th for sentencing.
Pursuant to terms of the plea agreement, all remaining charges are dismissed.