Taxi driver who took stolen goods instead of fare sentenced to probation
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 39-year-old taxi driver who was convicted of receiving stolen goods has been sentenced to 5 years probation.
Pasee Fuifatu was initially charged with one count of conspiracy to steal, a class C felony, punishable by imprisonment of up to 7 years, a fine of up to $5,000 or both; however, under a plea agreement with the government, Fuifatu pled guilty to the amended charge of receiving stolen property, a class A misdemeanor, punishable by a jail term of up to one year, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
With his guilty plea, Fuifatu admits that on Apr. 10, 2020, he received property valued at less than $100 that was stolen from Jen Minimart in Tafuna.
During sentencing, Fuifatu apologized for his actions and asked for a second chance so he can continue caring for his mother and young son, who were both in court.
Defense attorney said Fuifatu is a first time offender and he asked the court for a probated sentence without any period of incarceration. He said his client spent almost 5 months at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF), and he lost his job as a result.
The prosecutor did not oppose the defense's request for a probated sentence, saying the 12 months Fuifatu spent in jail is more than enough punishment for what he did.
The court agreed, and noted that Fuifatu has no prior criminal record in High Court, only a few appearances in District Court.
“We do note Mr. Fuifat that in 49 years you have managed to keep yourself away from violating the law, until this recent violation when you hung around with the wrong people, or with some other kind of influence which is something you need to address by yourself, to make sure you don’t repeat it,” the court said.
Fuifatu was sentenced to 5 years in jail; however, execution of the sentence was suspended and he was placed on probation for 5 years under the condition that he remains law-abiding, and pay a fine of $1,000 and restitution of $295.83
Fuifatu used his vehicle to pick up two men who stole items from Jen Minimart in Tafuna on Apr. 10, 2020 and transported them to Ottoville.
After he dropped the two men off, he received some of the stolen items as payment for his service.