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High Court hears meth, assault and stealing pleas

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 31-year-old bus driver has admitted that on/or about July 13, 2018 he had in his possession a glass pipe containing methamphetamine.

Henry Fa’apale appeared in court last week for a Change of Plea hearing. He was represented by Assistant Public Defender Rob McNeill, while prosecuting the case was Assistant Attorney General Laura Garvey.

Fa’apale was initially charged with unlawful possession of methamphetamine. But a plea agreement with the government allowed him to plead guilty to a lesser amended charge, a class D felony, punishable by up to 5 years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000 or both.

Fa’apale has been in custody since his arrest, unable to post a $5,000 cash bond.

According to terms of the plea agreement, the government claims that in July, when several detectives executed a search warrant on a truck that was parked in front of a Nuuuli store, two men were inside the truck - Fa’apale was one of them.

During a body search of Fa’apale, officers discovered a glass pipe containing meth in his pocket.

When asked what the glass pipe contained, Fa’apale said it was ice. He told police the glass pipe did not belong to him, claiming he found it inside the truck, picked it up, and put it in his pocket.

Fa’apale’s plea agreement was accepted by the court and sentencing is scheduled for May 10


A 49-year-old man from Samoa accused of assaulting another man with a machete last year has entered into a plea agreement with the government.

Tuluiga Tupa’i, a.k.a. Tuluiga Tagaloa appeared in High Court last week for a Change of Plea hearing.

Tupua’i, who has been in custody since his arrest last April, unable to post a $25,000 surety bond was initially charged with second-degree assault, a class D felony; and two misdemeanors: third degree assault and public peace disturbance. But under a plea agreement with the government, Tupa’i pled guilty to second-degree assault. The remaining charges were dismissed.

With his guilty plea, Tupa’i admits that on or about Apr. 11, 2018 he caused severe injuries to his neighbor by striking his back with a machete. Tupa’i told the court it was anger that made him do it.

According to notes of the plea agreement, Tupa’i was arrested following a physician's report from LBJ Hospital, noting treatment of a man from Mapusaga Fou with severe injuries to his back and shoulder.

Eyewitnesses told police that it was the victim who started the fight, when he approached Tupa'i while he was working on his plantation behind his house and told him to stop cultivating the land, because it's not his land - the land belongs to him (victim) and his family.

One eyewitness told police the victim threw the first punch, dropping Tupa'i to the ground. That's when Tupa'i stood up, grabbed his machete, and struck the victim twice. The first strike hit the victim’s back while the second hit his shoulder.

Sentencing for Tupa’i is scheduled for May 3


A 24-year-old man accused of stealing money from the cash register of a store early last year entered into a plea agreement with the government last week. Sefo Asofou who was initially charged with first-degree burglary, stealing, and public peace disturbance.

He pled guilty to stealing and the remaining charges were dismissed as part of the plea deal.

Associate Justice Fiti Sunia has scheduled sentencing for May 6

Under the plea agreement, Asofou admits he took money from the cash register of a Nuuuli store on Jan. 25, 2018 of which he returned $540 to police. Assistant Attorney General Laura Garvey told the court the money has been returned to the store owner.

According to notes of the plea agreement. Asofou and two co-defendants, Ieremia Vaili and Peleiupu Alesana burglarized the store and stole several items including cigarettes, food, and beer on the night of the incident.

Asofou entered the store first and stole more than $1,300 from the cash register. He told police he gave $300 to Vaili, $135 to Alesana, and he kept the rest.

Asofou has been in custody since his arrest, unable to post a $10,000 surety bond.

Vaili and Alesana are scheduled to appear in court next month for their pretrial conference. Both men are also still in custody, unable to post a $10,000 surety bond.