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Probationer who tested positive for weed is given another chance

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Chief Justice Michael Kruse did not revoke the probation of a young man who violated conditions of his 7year probation after he tested positive for marijuana, but instead modified conditions and allowed him to continue on with probation.

Don Fred Bernard who was convicted by a jury for assaulting a Korean woman in connection with a robbery in Kokoland in 2014 appeared in court last Friday for a Disposition Hearing.

Bernard’s defense attorney, Public Defender Michael White told the court that this is his client’s first probation violation since his 2014 conviction.

According to White, Bernard secured gainful employment to care for his mother and sister, and he asked the court for another chance for his client, so he can continue to work to support his family.

White described Bernard as a hard working man who cares very much for his mother and sister, and the incident whereby he tested positive for drugs was when he hung out with friends. He said this is a “one time violation” and his client will never do it again.

When given the chance to speak, Bernard apologized and asked for a second chance. He told the court that ever since he was released from jail, he has changed his life - he is not hanging out with his friends but spends most of his time at his job and with his family.

Assistant Attorney General Laura Garvey echoed the defense’s submission, saying Bernard did well on probation for the first five years of his 7-year term. She asked the court not to revoke probation but allow Bernard to attend drug counseling to help cure his problem.

The court accepted submissions from both attorneys and ordered Bernard to continue on with probation with the following warning: “This is the last chance for you, young man. If you fail to comply with conditions of your probation, there will be no more second chance for you.”