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Inmate opens unlocked gate and walks out of TCF

joy@samoanews.com

An inmate who was arrested for robbery charges simply opened TCF’s unlocked gate and walked outside the jail, and he is now charged with escaping from confinement, resisting arrest and public peace disturbance. Joe Togitogi made his initial appearance in the District Court yesterday and he’s represented by Assistant Public Defender, Karen Shelley.
 
The confinement and resisting arrest charges are class D felonies, punishable by up to five years in jail, a fine up to $5,000 or both, while the PPD charge is a class A misdemeanor which carries a jail term of up to one year in prison, a fine up to $1,000 or both.
 
According to the government’s case, on November 26, 2013, the defendant left the Tafuna Correctional Facility without permission where he was incarcerated pending a jury trial on felony charges of robbery and unlawful use of a weapon.
 
Court filings further say the next day, following the defendant leaving jail, former Warden Lumana’i Maifea contacted the Tafuna Substation informing them of the incident and notifying them that correctional officers were able to apprehend Togitogi and his accomplice, Fidelis Taumalua who’s also an inmate. It’s alleged police had received a call from a civilian who had information regarding the defendant’s location.
 
The civilian told police that he met with Togitogi and they were heading to Kokoland and police proceeded to Kokoland. Upon arriving at Kokoland, police approached the defendant, who attempted to flee the area. While officers were trying to apprehend him it is alleged he began to “act violently”, yelling profanities. It’s alleged additional officers were needed to subdue and arrest the defendant.
 
The government claims the defendant made a statement to police and “admitted that he had contacted Taumalua about his plan to escape.” Defendant stated, “he went to make a phone call but instead opened the front gate and walked out of the TCF, and met with Taulalua” at the nearest store and they hid at a house in Ili’ili.
 
Samoa News would like to point out that the issue of the TCF’s unlocked gate has been raised by members of the public on numerous occasions over a period of years.
 
 Inmates escaping from the TCF are among the many problems occurring at the TCF, and one which led to replacing the former Warden Maifea, (who’s now working at the main office) while Captain Fo’ifua Fo’ifua Jr is now the Acting Warden.
 
The government’s case further states the defendant was in jail on allegations that he robbed a homeless man and threatened him with a knife and to bash the victim’s head with a large rock weighing approximately five pounds.



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