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Plea agreement for Louis Tai in major drug case: guilty on one count

fili@samoanews.com

An American Samoa resident who was arrested last year in the territory and taken to Hawai’i to face drug charges at the federal court in Honolulu has pled guilty, but sentencing date is unknown at this time.

Louis Tai and his older brother Kaisa Tai were arrested at their home in Pavaiai last summer based on a federal warrant and were flown to Hawai’i to face charges of drug possession and intent to distribute. Their older brother, John Tai was arrested in autumn last year at his home in California for the same case, in which he was described by federal agents as the head of a “drug trafficking organization”.

The Tai brothers, along with other Samoans and non-Samoans were charged in a second superseding indictment.

Last Thursday afternoon, Louis Tai appeared before U.S. District Court Judge Barry M. Kurren and pled guilty to one count of knowingly and intentionally conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine between Oct. 3, 2008 and Mar. 27, 2012, according to the plea agreement.

With the guilty plea, federal prosecutors asked the court to dismiss two other counts of possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine. The plea agreement was accepted and noted was the defendant’s voluntarily guilty plea, according to court documents from the hearing.

Under the plea agreement, Louis Tai admitted that around Feb. 23, 2010, a cooperating individual for the feds received four pounds of methamphetamine from the defendant which was supplied by co-defendant Walter Dominguez, aka, Paisa, through John Tai, and later provided to Aloali’i To’oto’o for distribution.

Then around Aug. 30, 2010, the cooperating individual met with John Tai and paid him $15,500 as partial payment for the four pounds of methamphetamine which were distributed by John Tai on Feb. 23, 2010, according to the 14-page plea agreement.

The cooperating individual then negotiated with John Tai, for a pound of methamphetamine and later that day, co-defendant Jordon Fonoti, delivered the pound of methamphetamine to the cooperating individual after receiving it from Louis Tai.

“Laboratory analysis” by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Southwest Laboratory “determined this to be 446.8 grams of 99.3% pure d-methamphetamine hydrochloride,” according to prosecutors.

As part of the plea agreement, the defendant agrees to testify in any grand jury, court trial or any court proceedings pertaining to this case. Court records do not indicate when Louis Tai will be sentenced.

For John Tai, who pled guilty under a plea agreement in April with federal prosecutors, his sentence has been continued from last month to Dec. 3 this year. Court records show that he has a prior criminal drug record.

As to Kaisa Tai, court records state he was to have entered a guilty plea in June this year, but instead, he withdrew it and his trial is now set for Oct. 2. The Tai brothers are all being held in custody without bail.

In addition to the Tai brothers, there are 12 other individuals charged in this major drug case that includes several Samoans, and among them is a Samoan woman, Sifatutupu Fuamatu who is accused by federal agents of using her airline security credentials at the Honolulu International Airport to bypass airport security check points in order to transport drugs and drug proceeds in suitcases between Honolulu and Los Angeles.

 Samoa News first reported this story last year, and since that time, there have been many local and off island inquiries as to whether or not any of these drugs ever made it to the territory. Because the case is still pending in court, the federal government has not made any official comment on this.

However, Samoa News has reviewed thousands of pages of court documents in this case and there is no mention of any drug transport to the territory or any drug transaction with Pago Pago as the destination



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