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Man on probation for assault — back in court — for assault

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 45-year-old man who is on probation for 24 months was arrested last week on the allegation that he assaulted his neighbor while he was intoxicated.

Okesene Suluga made his initial appearance last Friday before District Court Judge Fiti Sunia. He is charged with 3rd degree assault, trespass, resisting arrest, and public peace disturbance - all misdemeanors.

Suluga was represented by Assistant Public Defender, Ryan Anderson, while prosecuting the case was Assistant Attorney General, Laura Garvey.

During his initial appearance, Sunia established Suluga’s bond at $1,000. If he posts bond, the court has ordered that he remain law abiding, not leave or attempt to leave the territory, and he has to surrender his travel documents to the government’s attorney. He was also ordered not to make any direct or indirect contact with all the government’s witnesses.

Suluga is accused of unlawfully walking on to a neighbor’s land and allegedly assaulting his neighbor by punching him in the face multiple times while he was intoxicated. The victim’s wife told police that this is not the first time Suluga has done this to her husband.

According to the wife, Suluga became upset when her husband did not do what the defendant wanted him to do. The victim and his family are living on land belonging to Suluga and his family.

Suluga prohibited the victim and his family from cultivating one area of the land; however, Suluga’s elder brother who left the island while Suluga was in prison around June instructed the victim’s family to use the land for their plantation.

Last week while Suluga was drinking beer behind his house, he allegedly saw the victim working on the land. He then waited until the victim went to his house before he walked over, forcibly entered the home, and allegedly assaulted the victim.

In June of this year, Suluga was convicted of 3rd degree assault and endangering the welfare of a clild, both class A misdemeanors. He was placed on probation for 24 months subject to conditions that he not consume any alcohol or possess any illegal drugs, and he is to attend and complete an alcohol counseling program. He was also ordered to be law abiding and to keep the peace with his neighbor. The court also ordered Suluga to serve a period of detention of 120 days and to pay a fine of $100.

Suluga is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 29 for his pretrial conference.