Two men arrested and charged for Laulii burglary — they stole a safe
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Two men accused of burglarizing a home in Lauli’i last month and stealing a huge safe containing several important items including coins worth $5,000 were arrested last week.
Willie Asiata and Tangiki Ahotau made their initial appearances before Judge Elvis P. Patea in District Court.
Prosecuting the case is Assistant Attorney General Laura Garvey while Assistant Public Defender Anna Whiles is representing the two defendants.
Asiata and Ahotau are each charged with stealing and second degree burglary, both class C felonies, carrying a maximum sentence of 7 years, a $5,000 fine, or both, for each count.
Bail is set at $10,000 for each man. If they are able to post bond, the defendants are to remain law abiding, not leave or attempt to leave the territory, and they are not to make any direct or indirect contact with the government’s witnesses, including the victim.
A defense verbal motion to reduce bonds for the defendants was denied.
Whiles asked for a bail reduction to $5,000, arguing that both men are residents of the territory and have strong ties to the community. She said Ahotau and Asiata are not a danger to society, and neither is a flight risk. Whiles asked the court to reduce the bonds so each man can be released to care for their families while they await the results of their case.
Prosecutor Garvey opposed the motion, saying the defendants broke into someone’s home, took property and destroyed it, but not before they stole several essential items including a huge amount of money.
Judge Patea agreed, saying the bond established by the court is suitable for the crimes for which the two defendants are being accused.
The DPS Central Station was contacted by the victim, after he discovered that his home was vandalized on the night of July 12th.
It is alleged that the two men forced their way into the victim’s residence at night and stole several items. They then entered the victim’s machine shop and took off with a huge safe containing important documents. The safe was broken and the contents were taken.
A neighbor who witnessed what happened reported the matter to the victim who then contacted police.
According to the government, the witness told police that after the men burglarized the home, they took the safe into the bushes and broke it. Inside the safe were several important items belonging to the victim, including his passport, business documents, and coins worth $5,000.
Ahotau and Asiata were later arrested.
When questioned by police, Ahotau allegedly admitted that he and Asiata planned to burglarize the victim’s home to score some cash. On the night of the alleged incident, according to Ahotau, he and Asiata entered the victim’s residence, as well as his machine shop, and they took a safe, which they “broke”.
Ahotau told police they did not count how much money was inside the safe when they stole it.
During arraignment in High Court last Friday before Associate Justice Fiti A. Sunia, both defendants entered ‘not guilty’ pleas to the charges against them.
Pretrial conference is set for Sept. 12th.
The defense had requested the court for Asiata to be released to attend his father’s funeral, which was yesterday. The motion was granted.