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Pardoned felon appointed new TCF warden

Territorial Correctional Facility TCF

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The Tafuna Correctional Facility has a new warden, Papalii Marion Fitisemanu. His appointment was confirmed by Acting Governor Talauega E. V. Ale in a statement issued yesterday.

Talauega says that Papali’i Marion Fitisemanu will replace Leone Faiai as warden of the Department of Corrections. Previously Papalii served as Deputy Director of Health, overseeing the Environmental Health Services that is in charge of conducting site visits of businesses and restaurants that require health clearances in order to operate.

He was assigned to the TCF last year.

Papalii was a former police captain and served over 25 years, but ended his career when he was criminally charged in 2008, and fined by the court for guns that were removed from the evidence room, which were later turned in.

Samoa News understands that Papalii was pardoned.

When he served for the DPS, Papalii had many senior positions including head of Internal Affairs commander of the Records Division, which also oversees the police evidence room.

Papalii’s appointment comes weeks after the Senate and House confirmed the appointment of Tauanu’u Semu Faisiota Tauanu’u as director of the American Samoa Corrections Agency (ASCA).

Tauanu’u is now officially the first director of this newly established Executive Branch agency, which includes the TCF and the Juvenile Detention Center.

He had been second in charge at the TCF for a number of years.

Tauanu'u also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Development Bank of American Samoa.

Meanwhile the Department of Public Safety (DPS) remains mum over queries regarding the prisoner that escaped from jail and attempted to break into the Territorial Bank of American Samoa (TBAS) in November last year.

Four months later the accused — Joeita Fa’aaliga  —has not been criminally charged. 

In November 2022, Fa’aaliga allegedly broke out of the TFC and attempted to break into the TBAS bank branch in Tafuna, but failed.

However, he allegedly vandalized the ATM machine.

Last year in July when Fa’aaliga escaped from the TCF, DPS Commissioner Lefiti Falelaulii Pese apologized on behalf of the police and the corrections agency for the “lapse” in informing the public that a prisoner had escaped.

“The concerns raised by the public are valid and therefore I apologize for the lack of a public notice by the Police, so the public can be aware there is a prisoner on the loose.”

In a phone conversation at the time, Lefiti told Samoa News about the then-recent separation of the ASCA from the DPS saying,

“As you know with anything relatively new, there are teething problems but we will do better, after all the public has the right to know so they can be alert,” said the Police Commissioner.

He added that while the ASCA is separate from the police, their duties are interconnected.

“When a prisoner escapes, the TCF should report it to the police — and breaking out of the prison is a violation of the law.

“However in this case, the police were only informed of the prisoner escaping a day after he escaped,” said the Commissioner.