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Joe Pitolau pleads guilty to multiple stealing charges in plea agreement

reporters@samoanews.com

A man, who remains behind bars on bail of $65,000, and is facing multiple charges in connection with four different cases that allegedly occurred between August and November 2009 has entered into a plea agreement with the government.

Joe Pitolau’s plea deal hearing was held before Chief Justice Michael Kruse yesterday. He is represented by Assistant Public Defender Mike White, while prosecuting this matter is Assistant Attorney General Kimberly Hyde.

According to the plea deal that was announced before the court, Pitolau pled guilty to four counts of first degree burglary from each of the four cases against him, while the remaining charges were dismissed. Each burglary count is a class B felony and is punishable between five and fifteen years in jail.

The Chief Justice scheduled sentencing for Pitolau on January 25, 2012.

FIRST CASE: BREAKING INTO ECE CENTER IN 2009

The first case against Pitolau initially charges him with first degree burglary and stealing however the plea deal has the defendant pleading guilty to the burglary count while the stealing charge was dismissed.

According to the government’s case, on August 27, 2009, it was reported to police that the Early Childhood Education (ECE) in Fagatogo was broken into.

A teacher at the ECE told police that while conducting an inventory of the equipment in the lab, she noticed that four laptops and two computer speakers were missing. The government claims the break-in took place between the time the Center closed Wednesday, August 26, 2009 and the following day when the stolen items were reported missing.

The government claims that the laptops were estimated to be valued at $1,100 each. Police investigation claimed that the defendant along with two juveniles broke into the ECE.

The defendant, Pitolau, admitted that he took one laptop and computer speakers while the other juvenile took the other laptops. 

Pitolau told police when they left the ECE center, they went to the Fagatogo Pavilion field, but they hid the laptops near the Rainmaker Hotel for Pitolau to pick up the next day. 

Police went with Pitolau and seized two laptop computers, which were later verified as belonging to the ECE Center and Ray’s Audio Shop. 

 

SECOND CASE: BREAKING INTO DOE E-RATE OFFICE IN 2009

The second case against the defendant occurred In September 2009. Pitolau was charged with first degree burglary and stealing. Pitolau pleaded guilty to the burglary charge while the stealing count was dismissed.

This matter is in connection with breaking into the Department of Education’s E-rate office where four laptops were removed from the office. According to the government’s case an employee of DOE received a call about the defendant and several other boys dancing and hanging out at the Pavilion playing music from a laptop and multimedia speakers.

The employee approached the crowd and saw that the laptop and speakers had the government seal on them. It’s alleged this was when the defendant ran away. The DOE employee took a juvenile along with the laptop and speakers to the police station. The juvenile was taken back to his parents where they were informed of the situation.

The juvenile told police that Pitolau suggested they go into the ECE office to get school supplies. The juvenile said, Pitolau tried to pry the window open, but it cracked and they entered. The juvenile admitted to police that he took speakers while Pitolau took four laptops and they exited through the window.

The juvenile said Pitolau sold one laptop to a female for $60. The woman told police the defendant sold her a laptop saying that it was a gift from his father. The woman said she gave Pitolau $60 in cash.

The laptop had since been turned into the police as evidence, and an employee of the E-rate office confirmed this was one of the items stolen from their office. An  employee of the DOE took the defendant into the police station, however Pitolau refused to make a statement.

 

THIRD CASE: BREAKING INTO WESLEY BOOK STORE IN 2009

The third case against Pitolau charges him with first degree burglary, stealing and property damage in connection with the break in on November 2, 2009, at the Wesley Book Store in Fagatogo. 

In this case the defendant also pleaded guilty to the burglary charge while the stealing and property damage counts were dismissed.

According to the government’s case, the defendant had entered the building by breaking a cement board that covers the top of the door frame.

The complaining witness told police that upon arriving at the bookstore, he saw rubbish on the floor from paint scraps and rotted wood. Two other rooms had holes in them, including the storage room.

The only items missing were some cross pins worth about $3.00 a piece. The government claims that the cost to repair the damages is valued at $150.00. 

It’s alleged that on January 20, 2010 Pitolau voluntarily went into Central Station to be interviewed, where he told the police of his involvement in the Wesley Book Store burglary. The defendant admitted to the police that he and another person had broken into the bookstore.  

Pitolau admitted to the police that his friend kicked in the board that was covering the area above the door. He went on to say that while inside they just looked around but did not take anything when they left.

 

FOURTH CASE: DRUG STORE BREAK IN IN 2009

The last case against Pitolau charges him with burglary and stealing in connection with the burglarizing the Drug Store in Faga’alu on Nov. 12, 2009. According to the government’s case the culprits entered the building by removing a piece of masonite from the ceiling. 

Police received a tip implicating Pitolau in connection with the Drug Store Burglary.  Court affidavit states that the defendant initially denied involvement however during the second interview Pitolau told police what allegedly took place.

Pitolau said he and three boys were walking home from the hospital, when they decided to burglarize the Drug Store. Pitolau said the other boys were on the lookout for police at the bus stop across from the hospital intersection.

According to the government’s case, Pitolau admitted that he and his friend entered the Drug Store through the ceiling by removing the masonite.

Pitolau said he took eight Old Navy slippers, rings, and earrings and placed them all inside his backpack. Pitolau said his friend also took Old Navy slippers, earrings, rings, powder and phone cards. 

Pitolau said he is no longer in possession of anything that was stolen from the Drug Store and he forgot who he gave it to.

The items that had been damaged from this break in and the total value of the items stolen were totaled at $1,995.75. The items stolen included whey products, phone cards, jewelry, cologne and aftershave, slippers, candy, sunglasses, purses, CD players, sodas and water.



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