Father jailed for drug dealing from home

A father of four children has been sentenced to 3 years and six months for drug dealing after he was caught selling marijuana from the comfort of his home. 

Jeffrey Schuster, a 38-year-old man of Nuu fou and Alamagoto, pleaded guilty to two charges of the possession of 2,396 cigarettes of marijuana and 235 marijuana seeds. 

He was jointly charged with his wife, Christina Schuster, following a Police raid in December 2018. 

His wife has denied being party to the offence and had her hearing heard before the Court. 

In sentencing the father, Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala-Warren said the aggravating factor of the offence is the amount of the marijuana and “exposing your children to drug dealing and drugs”. 

Prosecutor and the Attorney General’s lawyer, Fuifui Ioane, had sought a starting point of 5 years and six months for Schuster's sentencing.

But Justice Tafaoimalo settled for 5 years with an additional 3 months for Schuster’s previous conviction. 

She deducted 21 months for the defendant’s early guilty plea, leaving him with 3 years and 6 months to serve. 

A probation report noted that Schuster made about $300 tala a day from the sale of marijuana. 

At the time of the offending he was staying home to look after his children while his wife was working. 

Prior to being sentenced, Schuster was asked if he wanted to say anything. 

In response he asked for the Court’s leniency as he was remorseful and had accepted the charges against him. 

Schuster also asked if he could serve his time by doing community service work at the Ministry of Justice or wherever the Court saw fit. 

“My wife is unemployed and my children need financial assistance for their school fees and to be fed,” he said. 

But this was not accepted by Justice Tafaoimalo who made it clear the sentence needed to serve as a deterrence for such offences. 

The penalty for possession of narcotics is a maximum 14 years imprisonment. 

According to the amended summary of facts, on the December 21 last year at 7:30am the Police conducted a raid at the defendant’s house at Nuu fou. 

After the warrant was executed the Police then proceeded to search inside of the defendant’s house where they discovered multiple lots of marijuana and seeds. 

The quantity of the narcotics found in Schuster’s house was counted in front of him and his wife before they were jointly charged for the total amount: 2,396 cigarettes and 235 marijuana seeds. 

The father had been selling marijuana from his home to earn a living. 

He would receive black plastic bags of marijuana plant matter which he purchased from the village of Faleatiu. 

The defendant would then fill up clear plastic zip-lock bags and sold them for $10 tala each. 

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