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Status of defendant's 2-year old child in DHSS custody holds up sentencing

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Sentencing for Alesana Lauolo has been continued to next month so the court can get information regarding his immigration status, especially the status of his 2-year-old son, who is in the custody of the Department of Human and Social Services (DHSS).

Lauolo appeared in court last week for sentencing; however, the court ordered to continue Lauolo’s sentencing for another 4 weeks, because it seems there's missing information from the pre-sentence report that the court needs. That information is the status on the defendant’s 2-year-old son.

The court said that according to the information the court has, the defendant was brought to the territory in 2012 to work at a bakery, which is owned by a woman who was the sponsor of the defendant

According to the information before the court, this woman passed away not long ago. This was confirmed by the government’s attorney, which stated that the defendant’s immigration clearance expired in May two years ago.

The defendant presented his statement to the court and asked the court for another chance to return to Samoa to care for his mother.

In his own words, Lauolo told the court he is from Savaii, and he entered American Samoa to seek a better future for him and his family back home.

“During my stay in American Samoa, I’ve made so many bad decisions, including violating the laws of the territory, and I am here to express my apologies to the court for my wrongdoings,” the defendant said.

“I understand the court will hardly accept my request and apology, but I truly seek the court’s forgiveness for my actions and ask for a chance so I can go back home with my 2-year-old son, who is under the custody of the government. I am remorseful and ashamed of my actions.”

His attorney asked the court for a probated sentence and to order his client to depart the territory and stay outside for the duration of his probation.

The court said the charges against the defendant are serious and the court needs to take that into consideration. He also asked the government to file something under seal for the court’s eyes only about the status of the 2-year-old boy who is in DHSS custody.

According to the court, the government has charged Lauolo in two separate cases.

For the first case, the defendant was arrested and accused of possessing a handgun and drugs found during a traffic stop in Aug. 22, 2020

The government then slapped him with eight charges including attempted assault, unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, unlawful possession of a controlled substance (marijuana) and unlawful possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine or meth), possession of an unlicensed firearm, resisting arrest, careless driving and public peace disturbance.

In the second case, Lauolo is charged with escape from confinement, a class D felony, punishable by not more than five years in jail, and/or a fine of not more than $5,000, or both.

However, under a plea bargain that was accepted by the court this week, Lauolo pled guilty to unlawful possession of a controlled substance (meth, unlawful possession of a controlled substance (marijuana) and possession of an unlicensed firearm in the first case; and escape from confinement in the second case. The remaining charges were dismissed.

The defendant, admits that on or about the evening of Aug. 22, 2020, he was in possession of meth, marijuana and an unlicensed firearm.

Lauolo, who is being held in custody without bail, is scheduled to appear for sentencing next month. The court has ordered the government to bring all items that were seized in Lauolo’s case to court.