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Pay your fine or you’re in contempt, court tells taxi driver

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The Court has given 3 months for a taxi driver to pay his fine in the amount of $1,000 in full, or he will be found in contempt of court for failure to comply with conditions of his 2017 probation.

Leaia Asuni appeared in Court last week for a Probation Review hearing.

According to the Probation report presented to the court, Asuni is current with most of his probation conditions, including his alcohol counseling and paying his restitution in the full amount of $405.42. However, for his fine of $1,000, he has only paid $167.

Asuni’s probation will be complete at the beginning of next year.

When asked for the reason why he has not paid off his fine, Asuni told the court that he has a lot of personal obligations to take care of first, such as his family fa’alavelaves and also supporting his family and paying his bills.

The court reminded Asuni that the reason the court had stayed the remaining period of his detention —after he served 8 months — was to give him the opportunity to seek employment to pay his fine and restitution.

“Are you telling to the court that your fa’alavelave is more important than the fine,” the court asked Asuni. He replied, “No, the court is my first priority.”

Asuni immediately apologized to the court for not paying his fine, and stated that he had already spoken to the probation officer about his fine, and they agreed that he will make a payment of $200 a month.

“Your agreement with the probation office is not binding on this court. Once the court orders you to pay your fine, you have to comply. I’m giving you 3 months to pay your fine, if you fail, I’ll hold you in contempt,” the court concluded.