A former police lieutenant, Poe Leapai, was handed a three month jail sentence today for obtaining money by deceitful means.
With tears Poe Leapai pleaded for forgiveness.
He pleaded for one more chance to earn the trust of not only Chief Justice Michael Kruse and the court but also to earn the trust of the people of American Samoa.
The Chief Justice said, “this case leaves a sour taste in one’s mouth”…that a person with a badge on their shoulder shakes down multiple stores but our government thinks it’s not a big deal. An officer of the law for crying out loud”
According to police reports, Leapai had bought food from CoCo Mart in Nu’uuli and planted a bug in the food in order to get money out of the store owner.
He threatened the owner if they did not pay he would bring the power of the law on them.
As a police officer he could have the store issued a health warrant that would close down their business.
The owner of Coco Mart gave Leapai $40.
But that was not the only store he targeted.
He did the same to Happy Mart and received $150 and Mandarin store in Malaeimi for $100.
Instead of a felony charge, the government charged Leapai with a misdemeanor.
The storeowners were also charged with bribery and their cases are pending.
Chief Justice Kruse sentenced Leapai to 1 year in jail which was suspended on condition that he serve 90-days confinement without release, and then serve 2 years probation.
He was fined $1,000 and ordered to reimburse the stores that he took money from: $40 to Coco Mart, $150 to Happy Mart and $100 to the Mandarin Store.
The chief justice said, “If the Executive branch would hire this individual again, he is not allowed to meet any member of the public without supervision meaning someone with higher ranking than him.”