Chief Justice Michael Kruse has continued to 9:00 this morning, Monday, Feb. 5, 2018 the sentencing for the former Custom employee who was scheduled to be sentenced last Friday, so that the government will have time to bring to court all the evidence that police seized from this incident last year.
Titifalaula Siaumau, 22 was initially charged with one count each of importing a controlled substance and conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance — in this case, marijuana. Under a plea agreement with the government, Siaumau pled guilty to the charge of importing a controlled substance. The remaining charge was dismissed.
After his case was called by the Court Clerk, Kruse asked the government’s attorney, Christy Dunn if she had brought all the contraband that were seized from Siaumau’s case, she replied no.
She explained to the court that all the evidence for this case is currently at the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) Lab right now for testing, and she doesn’t know when the contraband will be returned.
Kruse asked the DPS Evidence Custodian, DPS Officer Jennings to explain to the court, what is the contraband that was seized from the defendant’s case.
Jennings explained that it was 8 baggies containing the controlled substance, which was sent off-island for testing, and the speaker that was used to transport the stuff is on island in the DPS evident room.
Kruse then ordered Jennings to bring the speaker to Court on Monday (today).
“Are there any scanners for the freight handler people at the airport,” Kruse asked. Dunn replied she believed that there were custom scanners, but she doesn’t know if there are any scanners for the freight handler people.
“There were millions of dollars we used for scanners and it’s useless if there are items that are not being scanned”, Kruse said. He then reminded Dunn and the DPS evidence custodian to bring the contraband to court on Monday, because he doesn’t want those items to be recycled or to be used by somebody else.
Siaumau admitted to the court that early last year in March, he knowingly imported marijuana through the Pago Pago international Airport.
The government claimed that a package addressed to the government’s witness, Felix Penerosa, arrived unaccompanied on a Hawaiian Airlines Flight on Mar. 27th. Penerosa is an employee of CSL Cargo Services. Inside the parcel, hidden in a speaker, was 5 pounds of marijuana, with an estimated street value of more than $20,000.
TAPUTIMU DRUG DEFENDANTS STILL IN CUSTODY
Two of the three men who were arrested by DPS Vice & Narcotics detectives during a raid in Taputimu last November are still in custody, unable to post their bond set by the District Court Judge Fiti Sunia.
Cody Wood is being held at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) with a bond of $200,000, and is represented by Joshua Rovelli of RDA Law Firm, while his co-defendant Taisia Lemalie, a taxi driver is being held with a bond of $5,000.
Wood and Lemalie appeared in High Court last week for their pretrial conferences.
In Wood's case, Chief Justice Michael Kruse accepted a motion by his attorney for a 30-day continuance, to give them enough time to review the discovery they received from the government and finalize a plea negotiation.
For Lemalie’s case, his attorney, Public Defender Douglas Fiaui acknowledged receiving discovery from the government. He asked the court to set the matter for trial, after they were unable to reach an agreement with the government. The trial is set for April 2020.
The third defendant in this case is still at large, and Police Commissioner Le’i Sonny Thompson confirmed to Samoa News this week that they’re still search for Steve Tuatoo.
Tuatoo, a former cop was arrested following the raids in November, however he was released from jail pending charges; and immediately left the territory.
DPS has received reports that Tuatoo has been seen in Seattle, Washington around November of last year.
The haul from November 9th raids, included crystal meth with a street value of up to $55,000, marijuana valued at up to S25,000 plus 3 weapons and ammunition. Police also found more than $54,000 in cash in the Wood home.
Chief Justice Michael Kruse has granted a motion by government attorney’s Woodrow Pengelly for another continuance on the case against Thomas Siaumau, so that the police will have more time to finalize their investigation, including the interview of more witnesses.
Pengelly also told the court that the evidence in this case may be sent off-island for testing, and it will take some time.
Siaumau, who is held without bail, is facing six felony counts — including assault and weapon charges — and three misdemeanors, appeared in High Court last week for his first pretrial conference since his arraignment on Dec. 29, 2017. He is represented by counsel William R. Olson of the RDA Law Firm.
Charges against Siaumau stem from an accident when someone shot at a police vehicle in Dec. 2017.
The shooting occurred on the late evening of Dec. 14 at the Tony Solaita Baseball Field, while two officers were on the field, searching for a possible break-in. The officers had been called to the ASTCA compound in Tafuna and noticed the gate open at the baseball field and went in to check, when the shots were allegedly fired.
Siaumau is scheduled to appear in court on April 6, 2018.