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High Court accepts plea agreements in drug raid and stealing cases

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — One of the two defendants arrested after armed detectives of the DPS Vice & Narcotics Unit executed a search warrant at a Tafuna home last year has entered into a plea agreement with the government.

Richard Toese, who is out on $2,500 cash bond, appeared in High Court last week for a Change of Plea hearing.

Toese, 41, has pled guilty to unlawful possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine), under which he admits that on Mar. 21, 2018 he unlawfully possessed a glass pipe that contained meth.

When police executed a search warrant at Toese's home last year, the defendant was not present.

That same morning, however, a blue truck was stopped by police in the Tafuna area. The driver was later identified as Toese. Two other males were inside the vehicle when it was stopped. They were later released.

A body search on Toese uncovered a glass pipe containing a crystalline substance in his pocket. In his statement to police, Toese said he found the glass pipe inside his friend's car; he then picked it up and put it in his pocket.

He also told police that  his friend — who owns the vehicle where he found the glass pipe — is a drug dealer.

Toese will be sentenced May 22.


A man accused of stealing cash and beer from two Asian stores in Tafuna has admitted to the charges against him.

Mareko Alefosio, who has been in custody since his arrest last July, unable to post a $5,000 surety bond, appeared in High Court last week for a Change of Plea hearing. He was represented by Assistant Public Defender Rob McNeill, while prosecuting was Assistant Attorney General Laura Garvey.

Alefosio, 25, was initially charged with first degree burglary, stealing, second degree property damage, and trespass.

But under a plea agreement, Alefosio pled guilty to stealing, a class C felony, punishable by imprisonment of up to 7 years, a fine of up to $5,000 or both. With his guilty plea, Alefosio admits that on July 26, 2018 he stole items valued over $100 from an Asian store in Tafuna.

It was footage from the store’s surveillance camera that captured everything. One of the men in the footage  was identified as “Mark” — the defendant — while the other was a juvenile.

Alefosio damaged the back window of the store to gain entry inside the storeroom. He took several food items and a case of beer — with a total value of $245.32.

He also took $102 from the cash register.

As part of the plea agreement, both parties recommended probation. The government is asking for restitution as well.

Alefosio is scheduled for sentencing on May 15.