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Man says he stole food from a store to feed his needy neighbor

American Samoa High Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 24-year-old accused of burglarizing a trio of Tafuna stores last year has entered into a plea agreement with the government.

Motu Meleisea was initially charged in three separate cases. In the first case, he was charged with stealing and first-degree burglary, both felonies. In the second case, he was charged with stealing, burglary, and third degree property damage. In the third case, he was charged with first-degree burglary, stealing, and third degree assault.

But under a plea agreement, accepted by the court last week, Meleisea pled guilty to two counts of stealing, a class C felony, punishable by imprisonment of up to 7 years, a fine of up to $5,000 or both - for each count.

Meleisea admits that on Feb.22, 2018 he stole several items from a store in Tafuna. He also admits that on Mar. 11, 2018 he unlawfully entered an Asian store in Fagaima and stole food items and cash totaling $231.

Meleisea claims that he gave the food he stole to his neighbor, but he used the cash to buy beer for himself and a friend.

When the court asked him why he stole food items from the second store, Meleisea said he heard that his neighbor was poor, so he went to the store to steal food for them.

Meleisea has been in custody since his arrest. He will be sentenced July 12th.