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Two in court receive sentences of ‘time served’

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man convicted for violating local drug laws was sentenced by the High Court to a period of detention of 12 months at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF), which is the time he has already served while awaiting the outcome of his case.

Rintel I’atala, who was released on his own recognizance after the court accepted his plea agreement with the government in January of this year, appeared before Associate Justice Fiti Sunia last week for sentencing.

I’atala was initially charged with one count each of illegal possession of marijuana and illegal possession of methamphetamine, both unclassified felonies. However, under a plea agreement with the government, accepted by the court in the beginning of his year, I’atala pled guilty to the amended charge of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a class D felonies, punishable by imprisonment of up to 5 years, a fine of up to $5,000 or both.

With his guilty plea, I’atala admits that on Feb. 8 he possessed a "glass pipe commonly used to smoke methamphetamine (ICE) with a usable amount of white substances inside."

When given the chance to address the court, the defendant apologized for his action and told the court that he’s truly remorseful for what he did. He apologized to the officers who arrested him on the day of his offense, saying that he didn’t mean to disrespect them while they tried to perform their duty according to the law.

“I want to continue to be with my mother and my girlfriend and also want to attend my counseling to help with my PTSD situation,” he said.

Defense attorney, Ryan Anderson asked for a probated sentence for his client without any additional period of detention. Anderson informed the court I’atala had already served over 12 months at TCF while awaiting the outcome of his case. Anderson asked the court to use the time his client served in prison to be his detention in this matter.

The prosecutor echoed the defense’s statement saying that the defendant is a suitable candidate for a probation. The government’s attorney told the court that based on the report from Probation there are some changes in the defendant’s behavior. Not only is he attending church but is also staying home and keeping the peace with his family and village.

After reviewing submissions from both parties, the court sentenced I’atala to a term of probation of 5 years, subject to several conditions including not consuming alcohol nor illegal drugs and he is subject to random testing to make sure he’s in compliance with the no alcohol and illegal drugs mandate.

He’s ordered to serve a period of detention of 20 months at the TCF. He was credited for the 12 months he’s already served while awaiting the outcome of his case. The balance of detention was deferred by the court until further notice.

Chief Associate Judge Mamea Sala Jr and Associate Judge Tunupopo Alalafaga Tunupopo assisted Sunia on the bench.


I’atala’s vehicle was pulled by police on Feb. 8 after an officer noticed that the sticker on the truck was not current. The defendant’s vehicle was impounded for failure to provide officers his driver’s license, and any other form of identification

An inventory of the vehicle was carried out, in I'atala's presence, and when police called the Central Station to inquire about information on I'atala's driver's license, they were told that no driver's license had been issued under that name.

An inventory of I'atala's property netted "a large plastic ziplock bag" which held a "glass pipe commonly used to smoke methamphetamine (ICE) with a usable amount of white substance inside."

Also found were two stamp-sized plastic baggies containing a 'white crystalline substance' that appeared to be meth. In addition, a "neatly folded newspaper" with what appeared to be 'dried marijuana leaves' was also found.

Before investigators could Mirandize the defendant, I'atala "spontaneously uttered that he has PTSD” and takes drugs to calm himself down.


A man was released from custody last Thursday after District Court Judge Gwen Tauiliili-Langkilde decided the 45 days he has served at the TCF is more than enough for his sentence in this matter.

Deion Devonte White appeared in District Court last week for his pretrial conference hearing, however when his case was called, his defense attorney, Public Defender Michael White informed the court that they had reached an agreement in this matter.

According to the terms of the plea agreement, accepted by the court, the defendant pled guilty to resisting arrest, a class A misdemeanor. With his guilty plea, the defendant admits that on Nov. 25th, 2020 he was loud at his residence and resisted arrest.

The court sentenced the defendant to 45 days at the TCF. He was also ordered to attend counseling and remain law abiding at all times.