CHANGE OF PLEA HEARING TODAY FOR BURGLARY CASE
The two men accused of breaking out of the Tafuna Correctional Facility and then allegedly burglarizing Bank of Hawai’i, KFC and Pizza Hut, are scheduled to appear in court today for a change of plea hearing.
The duo, Joe Leota and Ryan Pite, were in jail serving time for prior criminal convictions when they were each slapped with additional charges including two counts of first degree burglary, stealing, escape from confinement, and property damage in the first degree — all are felonies — that could net them an extra 21 years in prison if convicted.
According to the government’s case, on July 6, 2012 a BOH security officer in Honolulu, HI contacted that DPS central station to report a break-in at the BOH Tafuna branch, revealed through a surveillance camera in the local bank. Responding to the call, police also discovered the Pizza Hut/KFC building had been broken into, with the office doors of both restaurants pried open.
During a surprise raid at the jail following the three break-ins, police confiscated items which were later identified as the items removed from the restaurants.
VAITOGI MAN ENTERS GUILTY PLEA IN STEALING CASE
Taligalu Ah Siu of Vaitogi was initially charged with second degree burglary, attempted burglary and stealing. However, in a plea deal with the government, Ah Siu pled guilty to the burglary counts while the remaining charge was dismissed.
Under the plea agreement, Ah Siu admits that on February 13, 2013 he unlawfully entered a home and removed a gas tank. The plea agreement was accepted by the court.
According to the government’s case, the defendant also attempted to break into the hall of the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Vaitogi; however, a passing vehicle caused the defendant to take off.
Ah Siu remains at the Tafuna Correctional Facility with bail set at $10,000. He will be sentenced next month.
DRUG DEFENDANTS DENY CHARGES AGAINST THEM
Mafo’e Semu and Tenari Laulu were arraigned in the High Court last Friday, during which time they denied the charges against them. Charges were filed after they were arrested during a controlled buy with police officers.
Semu and Laulu are each facing one count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance (marijuana). Semu is being held on bail of $20,000 while Laulu’s bail is set at $40,000
Last Thursday, the pair waived their rights to a preliminary examination and the matter was then bound over to the High Court for arraignment.
It was an informant that tipped off police officers about an unknown male inquiring about the sale of marijuana. The informant gave police the cellphone number of the unknown male and a police officer then made contact with him.
A marked $10 dollar bill was given to the unknown man selling the drugs, who was later identified as Laulu. It's alleged the officer gave $10 to Laulu who then handed the money to Semu, and it was Laulu who allegedly gave the marijuana joint to the undercover cop.
Laulu then took off but other police officers were alerted to pull his vehicle over.
When the cops attempted to pull him over before the stop sign in front of the Tafuna substation, Laulu allegedly kept driving and police officers saw something being thrown out of the vehicle, which finally came to a stop near the stadium.
After searching the area where the object had been discarded, cops found a ziploc bag containing five hand-rolled joints which tested positive for marijuana.
After searching Laulu's vehicle, police allegedly found the marked money used in the controlled buy. Court filings state that during questioning, Semu informed police he saw Laulu throw out the ziploc baggie.
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