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Court Report

reporters@samoanews.com

MICHAEL LEATIGAGA & JOE LEOTA

The Attorney General’s office has filed charges against two men, in connection with over 200 cases of Wahoo that were removed from the StarKist warehouse back in August 2011.

The two men made their initial appearances before District Court Judge John Ward yesterday morning. The pair were arrested over the weekend.

Joe Leota has been charged with burglary and stealing, while his co-defendant Michael Leatigaga is facing stealing and receiving stolen property charges.

According to the government’s case, Leatigaga entered the StarKist warehouse through the door and removed more than 200 Wahoo cases, valued at thousands of dollars. It’s alleged Leota’s vehicle was used to transport the Wahoo away from the warehouse, and that the pair sold the cases of Wahoo to a couple of local stores. The government’s case states that approximately a hundred cases of Wahoo were recovered.

Leota is being held on bail of $15,000 while Leatigaga’s bail was initially set at $20,000 but was reduced to $10,000. The preliminary examination hearing for the pair has been set for this Friday.

Samoa News asked Assistant Attorney General Cable Poag, who’s prosecuting the case, if the government is going to charge the stores involved for receiving the stolen Wahoo cases. Poag replied that, “The government is not looking at filing charges against the stores involved.”

The two men are being represented by Assistant Public Defender Donna Clement.

KARENMARY MELENDEZ

A woman in her 40’s that was convicted by a jury last Friday for assaulting an elderly man was ordered to pay a $500 fine.

Karenmary Melendez was also placed on an 18-month probation and ordered to undergo anger management courses. She must also pay restitution of $150. Sentencing for Melendez was handed down by District Court Judge John Ward.

Melendez was found guilty of third degree assault, in connection with an incident which occurred last year April, where she’s accused of assaulting an 86-year old man from Nu’uuli.

 The complaining witness, Mafo’e Fuimaono told the jury last Friday that on April 12, 2011 he was visiting his plantation and saw that his dog was being attacked by Melendez’s dogs, and that she struck his dog with a 2x4. The elderly man told the court that the next day, when he approached the defendant on the whereabouts of his dog, Melendez swore at him and struck him with a 2x4 which landed on his side and his back. Fuimaono also said that Melendez threw a coconut which struck him on the chest.

Prosecuting for the government was Camille Philippe; while Assistant Public Defender Donna Clement represented Melendez in this matter. 

SELENI UIMAITUA

 A man in his 30’s is facing third degree assault after he allegedly assaulted a four- year old girl. Seleni Uimaitua, who was arrested over the weekend, made his initial appearance before the District Court yesterday morning.

According to the government’s case Uimaitua was upset that his seven- year old son was crying, because the four- year old victim had slapped him. Police claim that after Uimaitua allegedly slapped the young girl, who was sitting on a sofa, he allegedly grabbed her and threw her on the floor.

Assistant Attorney General Camille Philippe told Samoa News the government is conducting further investigation into this matter to determine if additional charges will be filed. 

IOANE TU'UMALO

A Tafuna High School student who has been charged — after school officials found illegal drugs in his possession while he was on school property — will be arraigned in the High Court today.

Eighteen- year old Ioane Tu’umalo of Pago Pago, who’s in custody with bail set at $10,000 is charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance, which is punishable by five to twenty years in jail, and/or a fine of $5,000.

Court filings say that Tu’umalo was caught smoking on school grounds and when he was searched by school officials, a red plastic vial containing three joints was found in his pocket, and the joints tested positive for marijuana.

According to court documents, when questioned by police Tu’umalo said he had gone into the bathroom and found the red vial on the floor and picked it up. The defendant told police there were four marijuana joints inside the vial, but he admitted smoking one of the four joints.



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