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Two plead to 'depart the territory' rather than serve out full sentences

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The court has granted a motion from a man serving a 10-month sentence for driving while his license was permanently suspended because of a DUI conviction.

Alex Lolenese appeared in court last week on a motion to modify conditions of his sentence. He requested the court to allow him to depart the territory right away.

According to defense attorney Rob McNeill, Lolenese was sentenced to 5 years probation, under the condition that he serve 20 months at the TCF. All but 12 months shall be stayed, and the defendant shall depart the territory upon serving 10 months behind bars.

McNeill said that so far, Lolenese has served almost 9  months of his 10-month term.

He said that last month, his client’s wife visited his office and asked for help. According to the wife, she was employed at the cannery but two weeks ago, she gave birth to their 5th child and now she no longer works. She stays home to watch the kids.

The couple agreed that the wife will return to Samoa with their 5 children, to await Lolenese’s return. McNeill asked the court for early release for his client, so he can be with his family in Samoa and provide for them.

The government did not oppose the motion, which the court granted under special conditions.

First, Lolenese is to be released only to a Probation officer, who will transport him to his port of exit. Secondly, Lolenese is to remain outside of the territory for the duration of probation, which is 5 years. The court warned Lolenese that if he tries to re-enter the territory during probation, he will be charged with a new offense.


A man who entered into a plea agreement in a drug case has been ordered to depart the territory and remain outside of its borders for the duration of his 5-year probation sentence.

Valaau Talaleu, who appeared in High Court last week for sentencing, has been in custody since his arrest Nov. 24, 2018, unable to post a $5,000 surety bond. He was initially charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. But under a plea agreement with the government, Talaleu pled guilty to the amended charge of unlawful possession of marijuana.

Talaleu admits that on the day in question, he had two marijuana joints when police conducted a body search on him. Taleleu apologized and asked for a chance to return to his family in Samoa, so he can find a job to care for his parents.

He said what he did was wrong and apologized to the American Samoa Government not only for breaking the law but also disobeying Immigration laws by residing in the territory illegally. Talaleu’s immigration papers expired 2 years before his arrest.

He was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment. Execution of sentence is suspended, and he is placed on probation for 5 years under the condition that he depart the territory immediately and remain outside of its borders for the duration of probation.

He is to serve 20 months at the TCF, credited the 13 months he served in pretrial confinement, and the balance is stayed until further order of the court. A copy of the court's judgment and decision is to be delivered to Immigration to ensure Talaleu’s name is on the lookout list.