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Man charged in two criminal cases enters into a guilty plea for both

A man charged in two criminal cases has entered into a guilty plea in both cases, which accuse him of threatening a homeless man with a knife and escaping from police while incarcerated. Joe Togitogi in the first case against him was charged with a felony count of robbery in the first degree, two charges of unlawful use of a weapon, also felonies, and third degree assault, a misdemeanor.


In the first matter, he pled guilty to one count of unlawful use of a weapon and third degree assault, while the remaining charges were dismissed as part of the plea deal.


This matter occurred on July 21, 2013 where the victim offered $4 to anyone who would read Bible scriptures with him and the defendant approached and took up the offer. Court filings say the defendant was paid, yet he got upset and threatened to bash the victim’s head with a large rock weighing approximately five pounds. 


Court filings say,“Victim is homeless and relies on his tent for shelter.”


The police were further told by the victim that for about half an hour, the defendant told the victim that he had committed numerous murders in the past and after telling these stories, the defendant then asked the victim for another $4 which the victim paid him, and told him not to come back.


The government’s case claims in the evening the defendant returned with a knife and swung it several times with cutting motions towards the victim, threatening to kill the victim if the victim didn’t give him $50. Court filings say the victim only had $11 which he immediately gave the defendant.


The second case charges the defendant with escaping from police custody. Court filings say that Togitogi “opened TCF’s unlocked gate and walked outside the jail.” In this, case he’s charged with escaping from confinement, resisting arrest and public peace disturbance. The plea offer in this matter, has the defendant pleading guilty to Public Peace Disturbance, while the remaining charges were dismissed.


According to the government’s case, on Nov. 26, 2013, the defendant left the Tafuna Correctional Facility without permission where he had been incarcerated for the alleged robbery.


Court filings further say the next day, following the defendant leaving jail, then Warden Lumana’i Maifea contacted the Tafuna Substation informing them of the incident and notifying them that correctional officers were able to apprehend Togitogi and his accomplice, Fidelis Taumalua, also an inmate.


It’s alleged police had received a call from a civilian who had information regarding the defendant’s location.


Chief Justice Michael Kruse accepted the plea agreement and scheduled sentencing for Mar. 27, 2014.