The village mayor of Fagamalo in American Samoa, has been charged with attempted murder while another chief faces a charge of abandonment for putting the lives of three fishermen in danger.
The mayor, Taliloa Faipea, ia being held on bail of US$50,000 while bail for Faletogo Taliloa is US$10,000.
The government alleges that in August, a fishing boat belonging to the Gurr family was fishing off Fagamalo.
After two divers had gone into the water and a third crew member waited on the boat, the pulenu'u approached and cut the anchor of the boat and towed it to shore.
The chiefs said that the fishermen had violated a fishing ban imposed by the village as a conservation measure.
The government claims that the chiefs' action had jeopardized the lives of the two fishermen who were still in the water.
When they emerged and found their fishing boat gone they had to swim six kilometres to get to shore.
The chiefs also imposed fines on the fishing boat owner and required substantial payments to get the fishing boat released.