Taxi driver in Futiga drug case to serve 20 months before deportation
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — One of the co-defendants in the Futiga drug case from last year will serve 20 months at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) and thereafter, he is to depart the territory and remain outside of its borders for 5 years — the duration of his probation.
Jimmy Mata’u, 41, was working as a taxi driver when he was arrested during the early morning hours of Apr. 24, 2020. He was initially charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine (meth), a felony punishable by 5-10 years in jail, a fine of $5K-$20K or both.
But under a plea agreement with the government, Mata’u pled guilty to the amended count of unlawful possession of meth, a class D felony, punishable by not more than 5 years in jail, a fine of not more than $5,000 or both.
He has been in custody, unable to post a $10K surety bond.
During sentencing last week, Mata’u apologized and said, “I’m a bad person and I know that my actions were not according to the law. Spending 14 months in prison was not a good thing for me, but throughout this whole ordeal, I have learned a lot of good lessons which will help with my life as I move forward to becoming a better person.”
He then asked for a second chance so he can return home to care for his family.
The defense attorney asked the court to adopt the Probation recommendation, and sentence his client to 5 years probation. He said his client has shown true remorse, and he has spent almost 14 months behind bars awaiting his sentence.
The prosecutor said the government has already entered into a plea agreement with the defendant and they will leave sentencing up to the court.
Based on the Pre Sentence Report (PSR), Mata’u was operating a taxi illegally, as his immigration ID had expired almost two years before he was arrested. The court noted that the case against the defendant is very serious and he played a key role in it.
Mata’u was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment under certain conditions. He has to pay a $1,000 fine and serve 20 months without release at the TCF. Thereafter, he is to depart the territory and remain outside of its borders for the duration of probation. While at TCF, Mata’u is not eligible for trustee status.
A certified copy of the court's judgment is to be served to the Chief Immigration Officer to ensure the defendant’s name is on the lookout list.
Mata’u was arrested Apr. 24, 2020 pursuant to a search warrant from the court. When questioned by police, Mata’u said the contraband found in his taxi did not belong to him. He claimed that the meth pipe probably belonged to a passenger he picked up.
He told police that the only things that belonged to him were the two scissors, which he uses to cut his mustache. He added that he drives a lot of people who do drugs and he also helped Filipo Aleki (co-defendant) pick up money from people, and Aleki would sometimes ride in his taxi to run errands.