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Court Report

reporters@samoanews.com

FOLASA GALEA’I DENIES DRUG CHARGES

The 19-year old man who claimed a package that came through the mail containing methamphetamine and marijuana was arraigned in the High Court yesterday morning.

Folasa Galea’i waived his rights to the reading of the charges against him and waived his rights to the reading of his rights and entered a not guilty plea to the charges against him.

The arraignment was presided over by Associate Justice Lyle L Richmond, accompanied on the bench by Associate Judge Mamea Sala Jr.

Galea’i was initially charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance of methamphetamine with intent to distribute and unlawful possession of a controlled substance, marijuana with intent to distribute.

However, during the defendant’s preliminary examination hearing in the District Court on Tuesday, District Court Judge John Ward ruled that the court found that there was no probable cause for unlawful possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute.

Judge Ward noted that the government failed to provide evidence pertaining to the quantity of the marijuana that was found in the package.

The charge was then reduced to unlawful possession of the controlled substance of marijuana, a lesser charge; and the case was bound over — which included the unlawful possession of the controlled substance of methamphetamine with intent to distribute.

Pre-trial conference for the defendant is scheduled on August 8, 2012.

According to the government’s case, the defendant claimed a package, which was inspected by Customs Agents, and found to contain food stuff, including four cans of whole tomatoes, which they noticed were unusually lightweight.

Court documents say that’s when the K9 unit was called for assistance. The custom agents then opened the cans and what appeared to be illegal substances were found. The substances found in the package tested positive as methamphetamine and marijuana.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASE

The High Court has rescheduled another hearing on a plea agreement in the government’s case against a man accused of performing sexual acts on his wife without her consent.

The matter was heard Tuesday morning before Associate Justice Lyle L Richmond who was accompanied on the bench with Associate Judge Mamea Sala Jr.

The defendant in this case is charged with rape, first-degree sexual abuse, attempted kidnapping and false imprisonment. Samoa News is withholding the defendant’s name to protect the identity of the victim who is the defendant’s wife.

According to the plea agreement that was read in open court, the defendant would enter his guilty plea to attempted kidnapping and sexual abuse second degree, which was amended from sexual abuse first degree.

However during the plea hearing the defendant did not seem to understand what he was pleading to, and Associate Justice Richmond told defense lawyer Leslie Cardin to explain to the defendant his guilty plea.

According to the government’s case the defendant is accused of raping his wife and holding her against her will. The criminal charges are in connection with a domestic dispute that occurred last month, when the defendant accused his wife of having an affair.

The husband has since been in custody with bail set at $35,000. Prosecuting this case is Assistant Attorney General Celia Reyna.

CRYSTAL TEO RECEIVES PLEA OFFER FROM GOVERNMENT

The government has made an offer to former station manager for Dependable Global Express (DGX) Company, Crystal Te’o, charged with two embezzlement counts.

Each embezzlement charge carries a jail-term of up to seven years and/or a fine of $5,000 or a fine equal to twice the amount gained from the crime up to $20,000 — or both fine and imprisonment. Te’o of Pago Pago remains in police custody with bail set at $25,000.

Te’o appeared in the High Court on Tuesday for her pre-trial conference where her lawyer Assistant Public Defender Michael White told the court that he has received an offer of a plea deal for the defendant however they need additional time.

He added once he goes through the plea with the defendant they will file a notice of plea agreement with the court, for the court’s consideration.

Chief Justice Michael Kruse granted the request for a continuance and scheduled another pre-trial conference hearing for June 26, 2012.

According to the government’s case, defendant Te’o was employed by the DGX Company from June 2009 to April 6, 2012. It’s alleged that Te’o rented a vehicle using the company name and designating DGX as the responsible party for payment, however she rented the car for her personal use.

Court filings also state that Te’o made payments to the Nu’uuli Service Gas Station for fuel for both company and personal vehicles, although the corporate office had not approved for Te’o to open an account at this gas station.

According to the government’s case the totals (of embezzlement amount) are subject to revision as documentation is still being collected by the police. Prosecuting the case is Assistant Attorney General Cecilia Reyna.



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