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Merlin Uli charged with escape while on work release

reporters@samoanews.com

Merlin Uli, one of the Uli twins currently serving time, is facing charges on allegations that he escaped while on work release on several occasions.

Merlin is currently serving ten years in jail with his twin brother Marlon following their conviction on two counts of unlawful possession of a controlled substance. Merlin made his initial appearance in the District Court on Monday.

The defendant is charged with four counts of escape while on program release, which is a class D felony punishable by imprisonment up to five years , a fine of up to $5,000 or both. 

According to the government’s case, a police detective was assigned to investigate allegations that Merlin, who’s out on work release, was leaving his work place.

It’s alleged that on November 16, 2011 the defendant was approved to take part in the work release program. The government claims the defendant was approved to work at 3M Burger and was already attending college full time. This part time job was between classes and after classes.

The government alleges that on June 22, 2012 a search warrant was executed at the Residential Substance Abuse Treatment (RSAT) Cell Unit inside the Tafuna Correctional facility where the defendant was housed.

“A number of items were seized during the execution of this search warrant; some of the items indicated the defendant was deviating from the direct route to and from his work release,” say court filings, which also state that during the search multiple receipts were confiscated from the defendant’s cell.

One of the receipts dated January 5, 2012 was a receipt for a money order at the post office in Fagatogo and the defendant’s signature was on the receipt.  

It’s alleged the signature on the receipt matches the defendant’s signature on both his driver’s license and voter registration card. Police also confiscated the driver’s license and voter registration card issued to the defendant.

The driver’s license for the defendant contains Merlin’s photo and signature that was issued on September 14, 2011.

An employee with the OMV, Sam Kolone confirmed with police that he recalled seeing Merlin at the OMV on September 14, 2011.

The voter’s registration card also contains the photo and signature of the defendant and it was issued in September 2011. It’s alleged that on May 25, 2012 post office employee Chevonne Lafaele was about to leave work at the Leone Post office, and while in her vehicle, she was approached by one of the Uli twins.

Lafaele was unclear which of the twins came to talk to her about a package that was scheduled to arrive on island and tracking information for the package noted that it was already on island, however he did not receive the yellow slip to pick it up.

Lafaele told him that he would have to go to the Fagatogo Post office. The government claims that a photo line-up was later presented to Lafaele where she identified that it was Merlin who she saw at the Post office in Leone.



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