Bail reduced in meth case; inaccurate amount cited
District Court Judge John Ward reduced bail for drug defendant Folasa Galea’i from $100,000 to $50,000 after new information before the court revealed the amount of methamphetamine which the police claimed was 12 lbs was only about 1 lb.
Assistant Attorney General Cable Poag told the court the precise weight of the meth is over one pound— not 12lbs. Poag said he is not aware how the error came about with police providing the inaccurate information.
Judge Ward asked the prosecutor about the weight of the marijuana that was confiscated to which Poag replied he’s not sure if the police had weighed the marijuana.
The information was revealed when Galea’i appeared yesterday for his preliminary examination. Sharron Rancourt, who represents Galea’i moved to have defendant’s bail reduced from $100,000 to $50,000 given that the amount of the meth is much less than what the police indicated earlier.
Samoa News contacted Commander of the Vice and Narcotics Division of Public Safety, Captain Peau Paulo Leuma who said the error was due to a miscommunication between customs agents and the detectives.
The VND Commander said the methamphetamine and the marijuana are each over one pound. Galea’i who is 19-years-old, is charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine with intent to distribute.
This count carries a jail term of not more than 20 years and a fine of not more than $20,000 or both. He is also charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance, marijuana with intent to distribute which is also punishable by not more than 20 years and a fine of not more than $20,000 or both.
Judge Ward scheduled the preliminary examination hearing for next week Tuesday.
According to the government’s case, the defendant claimed a package that contained a variety of snacks and some canned foods. When Customs Agents removed the items within the box they came across cans of whole tomatoes, which they noticed were unusually lightweight. Court documents say that’s when the K9 unit was called for assistance.
The four tomato cans, according to court documents, were labeled with the numbers 2, 4, 5 and 8, and were lighter than the two remaining cans, which were labeled “clear”.
Customs agents opened the tomato cans that were labeled with numbers and each can contained sealed plastic baggies containing a green leafy substance, which appeared to be marijuana.
The customs agents also opened the cans that were labeled “clear” and each can contained sealed plastic baggies with a white crystalline substance inside that appeared to be methamphetamine.
The defendant told Customs Officers the box belonged to his uncle “Milton”. When VND detectives arrived at the scene, they placed Galea’i under police custody. The substances found in the package tested positive as methamphetamine and marijuana.
Court documents say that police obtained written statements from customs agents who were present when Galea’i was at the US post office claiming the package.