More arrests for drug violations of defendants allegedly involved in other crimes
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man convicted of unlawful possession of illegal drugs told the court that the 12-1/2 months he spent in prison were more than enough to teach him how to become a better man in the future.
When given the chance to address the court, Onofia Afatia apologized and asked the court for a second chance.
His public defender, Rob McNeill asked the court to consider his client’s request and allow him the opportunity to go back home to care for his parents. He stated that his client was found with a small quantity of methamphetamine, and he agreed with the recommendation contained in the Pre Sentence Report (PSR) by the Probation Office that his client is a suitable candidate for a probated sentence.
Prosecutor Laura Garvey echoed the defense’s submission and asked the court to adopt the Probation Office’s recommendation.
Afatia, who has been in custody since his arrest last year, unable to post his $5,000 surety bond appeared in High Court last week for sentencing.
Afatia was initially charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a felony punishable by imprisonment term of not less than five nor more than ten years, a fine of not less than $5,000 not more than $20,000, or both.
Under a plea agreement with the government, accepted by the court in August of this year, Afatia pled guilty to the amended charged of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a class D, punishable by imprisonment term of up to five years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
By his guilty plea, Afatia admits that on August of last year, he had in his possession a stamp-sized baggie containing methamphetamine when police searched him.
The court then sentenced Afatia to five years imprisonment and a fine of $2,000. Execution of the term of imprisonment was suspended and Afatia was placed on probation for five years subject to several conditions.
Afatia was ordered to serve a period of detention of 20 months in jail and was credited for the 12 1/2 months he has already served while awaiting the outcome of this matter.
The court also ordered that the defendant be released for a period of 90 days on the condition that he seek and secure gainful employment. The court made it clear to Afatia that “gainful employment” does not include family farming, but he is to seek work where he earn a paycheck.
If the defendant is unable to secure gainful employment, the court will order him to return to the TCF to serve the remaining period of his detention. Throughout the period of probation, the court ordered the usual restrictions, including random drug testing upon a demand from a Probation officer or a police officer.
The court also ordered the defendant to pay his fine.
According to the court, Afatia’s sentence will be consecutive with whatever prior sentence he has from District Court.
THE OTHER CASE
While waiting in jail for sentencing in the meth case, Afatia was arrested again, along with two other inmates for the alleged beating of another inmate.
Afatia and the two co-defendants were each charged with one count of public peace disturbance (PPD).
The government claims that it was in the morning of Oct. 15th, 2019 when several police units were called to respond to the TCF to assist Correction Officers with a fight that was in progress.
One witness told police that he was the one who tried to stop Afatia from trying to enter Bravo Unit while holding a metal object in his right hand. Later on that same day, Afatia, along with the two co-defendants walked to the other side of the TCF compound and threw rocks at other inmates standing in front of the Bravo Unit.
Afatia was convicted by the District Court for PPD and was sentenced to 12 months probation.
A man who is on probation for stealing was arrested again by police on the allegation he violated local drug laws during a traffic stop last month in Malaeimi, where two glass pipes (commonly used to smoke meth) containing white crystalline substance were found in a pocket of his pants.
The truck was stopped on the early morning of Sept 25, 2020, when it was observed that the front portion of their pick-up truck had too many lights on it.
Three male individuals were found inside the vehicle, including Toia, who was sitting in the passenger seat, when pulled over by police.
The driver of the vehicle, Tuputala Apelu is the owner of the vehicle, who provided his valid immigration I.D and driver’s license to officers. The vehicle registration is valid until September 2021. Apelu received 3 traffic citations from the officers.
It was while officers were speaking to the driver that the defendant, Toia, exited the truck. He was told to get back inside, but Toia continued to walk to the back of the vehicle while at the same time trying to reach inside the rear pocket of his pants.
As an officer walked over to the area where Toia was standing, Toia immediately took off and ran to the other side of the road and continued fleeing the officer.
Officers, along with help from Apelu and another male passenger chased Toia for few minutes before he was apprehended in front of a hardware store.
A body search was conducted on Toia where officers discovered two glass pipes containing white crystalline substance. The white crystalline substance was tested and turned positive for methamphetamine.
Toia told officers he got the two glass pipes from his friend for $40.
Apelu was interviewed by police regarding Toia’s presence in his truck, and he told them that he doesn’t know Toia well and that Toia had flagged down his vehicle and asked for a ride back home to Taputimu.
Toia made his initial appearance in court and is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a felony, punishable by term of imprisonment from 5 to 10 years, a fine not more than $20,000, or both.
Bail is set at $5,000 and preliminary examination is scheduled for Thursday next week at 10a.m.
Toia is on 5 years probation after being convicted for assaulting a man by using a metal pipe to strike his head twice, causing severe injuries to the victim three years ago. The court ordered Toia to serve 20 months in jail and pay restitution in the amount of $213.89 as a conditions of probation. He was also ordered to remain law abiding and stay from consuming alcohol or illegal drugs.