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Man who tells court all his money went to feed his kids deported for not paying fine

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The court has ordered Fina Filiva’a to immediately depart the territory and remain outside of its border for the duration of his probation term, which is five years, after the court found that Filiva’a failed to comply with conditions of his 2016 probation.

Filiva’a, who has been in custody since he was arrested two months ago pursuant to a bench warrant from the court, appeared in High Court last week for his Deposition Hearing, for failure to pay his fine as a condition of his probated sentence.

Filiva’a apologized to the court for his action and begged for another chance to be with his family especially his two young children. Being in prison was a bad experienced for him, and he asked the court to allow him to seek employment and pay his fine.

Defense attorney, Ryan Anderson told the court that Filiva’a was in compliance of all other conditions of his probation, except for paying his fine. He told the court that all the money his client has is spent to feed his two young children; and asked the court to give his client another chance to seek employment to pay his fine, as well as asking for his client’s probation not to be revoked.

The prosecutor echoed the defense’s submission and asked the court to stay any detention terms for Filiva’a, but allow him to do community service for the government to make up for his fine. She told the court that after reading the report, it appears that the defendant did not have enough money to pay his fine.

Before discussing the decision, the court reminded both counsels of two essential things that none of them mentioned during their submissions.

First, as a condition of the defendant’s probation, he was ordered to depart the territory, but that condition was stayed. Second, the court had a hard time finding the defendant when his bench warrant was issued.

Anderson quickly responded to the court, saying that he understands the court’s concerns but asked for another chance for his client. He said that he client had been employed, but unfortunately lost his job.

“Wasn’t that another condition of his probation, he must be employed?” the court asked. Anderson replied, “Yes your honor.”

In delivering its decision, the court stated that after reviewing all the mitigating factors about the case, the court found out that the defendant had been given numerous opportunities to comply with the terms of probation, even staying detention.

“ ... And what we’re finding is a history of missed opportunities that the defendant has inexplicably failed to take advantage of. We also notice from the report that the defendant has paid very little respect … to the court,” the court said.

The court then ordered “the balance of detention shall continue to be stayed, however, condition number 3 of the judgment and sentence shall be implemented forthwith, and that is the defendant shall depart the territory and remain outside of the territory throughout the duration of his probation. The defendant shall be released to the trustee of Probation for transportation to one of the exiting ports.”