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Time served for one case doesn't provide credit for another, says Judge Patea

American Samoa District Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man who pled guilty yesterday to third degree assault for attempting to strike another person with a rebar last year has been sentenced to 120 days (4 months) imprisonment.

Vise Gauta appeared in District Court yesterday morning for a pretrial conference on the assault charge, and an initial appearance for a slew of traffic violations.

Under a plea agreement with the government, Gauta pled guilty to third degree assault in the first case, and 'no contest' to careless driving in the other case. In return, the remaining six traffic violations were dismissed.

Prosecutor Assistant Attorney General Jason Mitchell recommended a six-month jail term.

Judge Elvis P. Patea pointed out that according to the case file, Gauta posted a $1,000 bond on July 5, 2018 and he wanted to know why Gauta came to court in shackles. The court was informed that Gauta is in custody for a separate matter now before the High Court. 

Defense attorney Assistant Public Defender Anna Whiles recommended that her client be sentenced to time served, however Judge Patea explained that Gauta posted bail back in July of last year, meaning he was not in custody — for this case — and therefore, “there is no time served”.

He told attorneys from both sides to “pay attention” and remember that just because a person is in custody for one matter — in this case, the High Court — that doesn't mean he automatically gets credit for “everything else”.

The High Court matter involving Gauta was first heard last year.

For the assault charge, Judge Patea sentenced Gauta to 120 days in jail, saying he will serve out the entire sentence before the High Court even gets around to hearing his matter that is pending there.

For reckless driving (there were no injuries, only property damage) Gauta is ordered to pay $110 and outstanding fines of $50 — both of which will be deducted from his $1,000 bond.

Gauta was to immediately start serving his 4-month jail term yesterday.