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Young man implicated in SAAB burglary pleads guilty to stealing

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 22-year-old man from Tafuna, along with several juveniles, broke into the SAAB Pago Store in Tafuna and stole about $,5000 worth of goods, none of which were recovered was ordered by the High Court to pay a restitution in the amount of $5,000, after he serves a period of detention of 28 months at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) in Tafuna.

Kinitoni Vi was originally charged with stealing and second degree burglary, both class C felonies, punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to 7 years, and a fine of up to $5,000 or twice the value of items that were stolen. However in a plea agreement with the government, Vi pled guilty to the charge of stealing, while the remaining charge was dismissed.

Upon his guilty plead, Vi admitted that on Jan 7, 2018 in Tafuna he unlawful entered the SAAB Pago store without permission, along with several juveniles, and stole items from inside worth $5,000.

When given the opportunity to address the court, Vi apologized to the court for his actions and asked for forgiveness. He told the court that what he did was wrong and the time he spent in prison to await the outcome of his case taught him a good lesson that breaking the law is not a good thing to do.

“What I did brought shame to my family and myself. What was written in the newspaper about my case makes me embarrassed and I want a chance to my life and do good things for my future. I’m truly remorseful and I want to go back home and care for my parents. My Dad is unemployed, he stays home because he’s disabled and he can’t walk. Please, grant me a second chance so that I can go back home and start a new chapter in my life,” Vi told the court.

His attorney, Acting Public Defender Michael White told the court that every time he spoke to Vi about this case while he was detained in prison, he always told him that he’s truly remorseful and wanted to go back home to care for his family.

White told the court that the young man he represented made a terrible mistake in his life. Not only did he break the law but he set a bad example for some juveniles by allowing them to be involved in burglarizing the SAAB Pago store.

“I hope that the period Vi spent in prison will wake him up and change his path, because if he continues to live like this in the future, he will spend the rest of his life behind bars, or end up in a different place including the hospital. He’s really young and he has a bright future ahead of him. I ask that he be sentenced to a period of probation and allowed to get a job to pay his fine and restitution,” White told the court.

Prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General Woodrow Pengelly also asked the court for a probated sentence, but that it includes a period of detention. Despite the fact that the defendant has no prior criminal record, Pengelly told the court that what he did was serious and he has to face the consequences of his action.

The prosecutor believes that the past 6 months spent in prison has helped the defendant to regroup and be a better person in the future.

When Chief Justice, Michael Kruse asked whether the items that were stolen were ever recovered by the owner, White replied no — that nothing was recovered by police.

According to Kruse, the case against Vi was discovered when police questioned one of the juveniles involved in this case, which led to the identification of the defendant.

The court sentenced Vi to a term of imprisonment of 7 years, execution of sentence was suspended, and the defendant was placed on probation for 7 years under certain conditions, including serving a period of detention of 28 months without release, and paying restitution of $5,000 to SAAB Pago store. The 6 months he spent in jail awaiting his case is counted towards the detention period.

After serving one year in jail, the defendant is eligible for work release in order to pay restitution to the store, provided he finds a job.

Terms of his probation are that he not make any contact with the juveniles in this case, and stay away from the SAAB Pago store. He is also banned from alcohol and drugs of any kind including gasoline fumes. He is also subject to random testing by the probation office.