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TCF inmate working without court approval — but it wasn’t his fault

American Samoa High Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The issue of releasing an inmate from the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) by the government without court approval did not sit well with the court. For this reason, Associate Justice Fiti Sunia had issued a bench warrant for the arrest of inmate, Darryl Sagato to return him to TCF.

Sagato was scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday, July 7, 2020 for his Probation Review Hearing and Motion for Work Release. Assistant Public Defender Ryan Anderson appeared for Sagato while Assistant Attorney General Kristie Soule is prosecuting the case.

When Sagato’s case was called, defense attorney, Anderson informed the court that his client is not present nor in custody. He told the court that his client has been released and he’s currently working at the Pago Plaza as a grounds man.

The prosecutor echoed Anderson’s statement to the court, saying that TCF informed them that they released him without authority of the court after calculating his time is over.

Sunia immediately issued two Orders to Show Cause (OSC) for the defendant and the TCF Warden.

Sunia said that the court had anticipated a work release but the court was not available at that time. Now, we’re available, Sunia said. He then turned to Anderson and told him that this might not be his client’s fault.

He then issued an immediate bench warrant for the defendant and instructed the court marshal to pick up the defendant today (Wednesday last week) and bring him into court the next day.

He also ordered the government to bring in the TCF Warden to tell the court what happened.

Samoa News understands that Sagato turned himself into the court marshal later that day and was later transported to the TCF pursuant to order of the court.

On the following morning, Thursday, July 8, Sagato appeared in court with handcuffs on. TCF Warden, Commander Foifua Foifua was also present in court.

When the case was called, Anderson informed the court that he had received the copy of the bench warrant and immediately asked the court to quash the warrant against his client. He further stated that what happened was not his client’s fault. According to Anderson, he thinks that TCF misread the order of the court, and that was the reason why his client was released from custody without court permission.

Prosecutor Soule said that it was not the Judgment and Sentence (J&S) they misread, it was their own personal notes.

After hearing from both parties, Sunia granted the defense’s motion and quashed the warrant against the defendant. He also vacated the OSC for the TCF Warden. Sunia personally thanked the Warden for making time to come to court.

Sunia then officially granted the defense’s motion for work release and ordered Sagato to be released from custody to work and return to the TCF, from Monday through Friday, 7a.m to 5p.m.

Sunia also told the prosecutor to make sure they get together with the Warden to make sure they understand the terms contained in the J&S.

Sagato is now allowed to be on work release while serving his sentence at the TCF.