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Man from Samoa accused of meth possession, pleads guilty

American Samoa High Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 36-year-old man from Samoa accused of violating the drug laws has pled guilty.

Faasasao Mauga, who has been in custody since he was arrested last year, unable to post his $5,000 surety bond appeared in High Court last Friday for his Change of Plea hearing. Prosecuting the case was Assistant Attorney General Doug Lowe, while Assistant Public Defender Rob McNeill represented the defendant.

Mauga, who was a taxi driver when police arrested him on 30 Dec. 2018, was initially charged with a single count of unlawful possession a controlled substance, to wit; methamphetamine, a felony punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than five years or more than then years and a fine of not less than $5,000 nor more than $20,000, or both.

However, under a plea agreement with the government, accepted by the court, Mauga agreed to plead guilty to an amended count one in the information, unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a class D felony punishable by a term of imprisonment of not more than 5 years and a fine of not more than $5,000, or both.

With his guilty plea, Mauga admits that on Dec. 30, 2018 while his car was parked in front of a restaurant in Tafuna, police discovered drugs in his possession. He told the court that he unlawful possess a glass pipe contained methamphetamine.

Sentencing for Mauga is scheduled for July 5, 2019.

Defense attorney asked the court to release his client on his own recognizance after the court accepted the plea agreement.

McNeill said his client’s immigration status is still valid, and he’s willing to offer himself for random testing if order by the court. The government attorney did not oppose the defense’s verbal motion.

Chief Justice Michael Kruse ordered that the defendant be released under the custody of the Chief Probation Officer for testing whether he’s clean or not. Kruse also ordered the defendant to make sure he’s in compliance of Immigration laws.

If the defendant tests negative for illegal drugs and his immigration status is legal according to the law, then he will be release on his own recognizance awaiting his sentencing.