Two men convicted of stealing in separate cases released from custody
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A young man convicted of stealing equipment belonging to the government and later violating local drug laws is going to jail. Tanu Sefulu was ordered to serve 20 months at the TCF as a condition of his 5-year probation.
Sefulu, who has been in custody since his arrest, unable to post a $10,000 surety bond, appeared in High Court last week for sentencing.
The government charged Sefulu in two separate cases: first-degree burglary and stealing in the first case, and unlawful possession of methamphetamine (meth) in the second case.
But under a plea agreement with the government, Sefulu pled guilty to stealing and the amended charge of unlawful possession of meth.
Sefulu admits that on Dec. 20, 2020, he entered government property in Tafuna and took off with equipment, which he later sold to another man for drugs.
Seven days later, on Dec. 27th, when he was arrested for the stealing case, cops found on him two glass pipes containing meth.
When given the chance to speak, Sefulu, a US citizen, apologized and asked for forgiveness. He asked the court to allow him to depart the territory and return to the U.S. where his parents reside, so he can find a job and care for them. He said he prefers living in the U.S. rather than in American Samoa.
Attorneys from both sides asked for probation.
Before ruling on the case, the court told the defense attorney that based on the information the court believes American Samoa is the best place for his client to live. However, if there is a return airline ticket for Sefulu to return to the U.S., the court will suspend its sentence and allow him to return to his parents.
Sefulu was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment. Execution of the sentence was suspended and he was placed on probation for 5 years subject to several conditions including that he serve 20 months at the TCF. He was credited for the time he spent in pretrial confinement, which was 10 months and the remainder was stayed.
Sefulu was released after he was sentenced by the court.
A 22-year-old man who was convicted of stealing was released from custody last week, after the High Court determined that the 14 months he served at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF), to await sentencing, was enough.
Pulemai Faalolo, under a plea agreement with the government, pled guilty to the amended charge of stealing, a class C felony, punishable by not more than 7 years imprisonment, and/or a fine of not more than $5,000.
With his guilty plea, Faalolo admits that sometime during July 12th of last year, he misappropriated property that belonged to another person.
During sentencing, Faalolo apologized to the government, the court, and people of American Samoa for his behavior and asked for forgiveness, noting, “Please, I want to go home to my family.”
Defense attorney asked the court to give Faalolo another chance. He said his client is only 22 years old, very immature, and he has advised him to think about his future. He said his client is a suitable candidate for probation. The prosecutor echoed the statement.
The court said that while Faalolo is young, the pre-sentence report shows that he's had a prior run-in with the law.
Faalolo was placed on probation for 5 years under certain conditions. He has to remain a law abiding at all times, visit the probation office once a month, and serve 20 months at the TCF.
“You will be credited the 14 months you have already served; the balance of 6 months will be stayed as long as you comply with all conditions of your probation,” the court told Faalolo, who was also ordered to pay a $1,000 fine within 6 months, and secure gainful employment.