Saturday, July 19, 2003

Woman who tried
to take gun on plane
avoids jail

A 27-year-old Aiea woman has been sentenced to six months of home detention for attempting to carry a loaded gun onto an airplane.

Princess Samonte will have to wear an electronic monitoring device and will be permitted to leave home only for work, according to yesterday's sentence from U.S. District Judge Susan Mollway.

Mollway also sentenced Samonte to three years' probation and to pay a $1,000 fine.

On Jan. 24, Samonte attempted to carry a loaded .25-caliber semiautomatic handgun in her sock through the security checkpoint at Honolulu Airport. She was flying to San Antonio on United Airlines to visit her ex-boyfriend, who is stationed there in the Navy.

She claimed she believed she could carry the gun since it was registered to her and did not know it was illegal to carry a concealed weapon on an aircraft.

Samonte pleaded guilty on March 20 to the charge of attempting to carry a concealed weapon on an aircraft. Under an agreement, the second charge of failing to notify airline officials of the firearm was dropped.

Samonte faced up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 for the charges.

At the sentencing, Samonte said, "I apologize for my mistakes, and I hope I can move on in my future."

Mollway said she took into consideration Samonte's "job history, behavior and her support network" when deciding the sentence. Mollway said she hoped the lesser sentence would not diminish the seriousness of the crime.

"This is very serious," she said. "You treat guns in any way you like, and that gives me great concern."

Assistant federal public defender William Domingo said the six days Samonte spent in jail had an impact, and she "realized what she had done."

Domingo asked the judge to consider reducing the duration of home detention to three months, citing the six months Samonte had already been electronically monitored.

U.S. Attorney Omer Poirier objected, saying it was a "fair sentence for a serious offense." Mollway agreed and declined the request.

Domingo said Samonte had been struggling with a new job and a long-distance relationship at the time of the offense and carried a gun for protection when riding the bus home late at night.

He also said: "Her intentions were not to blow away her boyfriend, as alleged. They still maintain a relationship."


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