Overstayer charged in drug case is ordered to depart the territory immediately
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — An illegal immigrant from Samoa who entered into a plea agreement in a drug case has been ordered to depart the territory and remain outside of its borders for the duration of his 5-year probation sentence.
Amosa Ulugia appeared in High Court last week for sentencing. He has been in custody since his Oct. 24, 2018 arrest, unable to post a $5,000 surety bond.
Ulugia was initially charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. But under a plea agreement with the government, he pled guilty to the amended charge of unlawful possession of marijuana.
Ulugia admits that on the day in question, he had 5 marijuana joints when police searched him.
When given the chance to speak, Ulugia apologized and asked for a chance to return to his family in Samoa, so he can find a job to care for his parents and his siblings.
“I came here to seek a job so I can provide for my elderly parents and young siblings in Samoa, however, I don’t know why my sponsor did not file proper papers to renew my immigration I.D. I’m truly remorseful for what happened and I will accept whatever sentence the court gives me,” Ulugia said.
Ulugia’s immigration papers expired 4 years before he was arrested.
Attorneys from both sides asked the court to adopt the recommendation in the Pre Sentence Report (PSR), and sentence Ulugia to probation for 5 years.
Ulugia was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment, but execution of sentence is suspended and he is placed on probation for 5 years under the condition that he depart the territory immediately and remain outside of its borders for the duration of probation.
He is to serve 20 months at the TCF, credited the 14 months he spent in pretrial confinement. The balance is stayed until further order of the court.
Associate Justice Fiti Sunia has ordered that a copy of the court's decision be delivered to the Immigration Office to ensure Ulugia’s name is on the lookout list.
Ulugia was a passenger of a vehicle that police pulled over during a traffic stop in Vaitogi. While police were speaking to the driver , an officer saw Ulugia trying to reach into his pant pocket. During a body search, officers found a small plastic baggie containing 5 marijuana joints .
Ulugia told police the drugs were given to him by a friend from Vaitogi for fixing his vehicle. He said he does mechanic work at home to earn a living for him and his family.