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Young man who begged to go back to the states, ordered to TCF after conviction

TCF Territorial Correctional Facility sign

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A young man convicted of stealing government equipment 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 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 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 Nov. 1, 2019, he entered government property in Tafuna and took off with equipment, which he later sold to another man for drugs.

One week later, on Nov. 8th when he was arrested for the stealing case, cops found on him two glass pipes containing methamphetamine.

When given the chance to speak, Sefulu, a US citizen, apologized and asked for forgiveness. He said spending 12 months in prison has taught him a good lesson. 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. And also due to the borders being closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the court is only able to order the defendant to serve his probation on island until any further changes from the government.

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 12 months and the remainder was stayed.

Sefulu was released after he was sentenced by the court.

The court strongly advised the defendant to comply with all of the court orders because if he violates any of the conditions of his probation, he will going to jail for 5 years.