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Attempted break-in at Ottoville leads to drug charges

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The government has charged a 22-year-old man with unlawful possession of illegal drugs and for trying to break into a store in Ottoville in February of this year. Fatu Senetala made his initial appearance in District Court last week.

Senetala, who is on probation after being convicted of stealing and burglary 4 years ago is charged with unlawful possession of the controlled substance, marijuana, resisting arrest and attempted burglary in the second degree — all class D felonies, along with disturbing the public peace (PPD), a class B misdemeanor.

The court established Senetala’s bond at $15,000. If he posts bond, the court has ordered the usual restrictions, including he is not set foot in the store he allegedly tried to break into, and to not make any contact with the government's witnesses.


According to the government’s case, a lady informed police about a male who tried to break into a store in Ottoville on the early morning of Sept.12, 2021 by trying to damage the side window of the building. The lady was inside her vehicle, which was parked in front of her boyfriend’s home across from the location of the store when she saw the alleged crime and immediately called police for assistance.

Police responded to the call but were unable to locate the suspect, as the suspect fled the scene before two police units arrived.

Another eyewitness who was near the scene when police arrived told officers that the man who attempted to break into the store used to live at his uncle’s house a few years back.

Police interviewed the lady who reported the alleged incident and she immediately identified the suspect to police as Fatu Senetala. The witness told officers that she always sees Senetala around the area but she doesn’t know exactly where he resides.

Efforts to locate the suspect were unsuccessful.

 However, two weeks later, the same reporter contacted police again, telling them the man she saw trying to break into the store in the beginning of this year was within sight. She was at the Fagatogo Market.

When police arrived,  the witness identified the defendant, who was standing at the west side of the Fagatogo market. Police approached Senetala and asked if he could come with them to the station to discuss an important issue.

While speaking with police, Senetala turned and ran away. A foot chase ensued with police, who were also helped by some men, who were at the market.

About a half an hour, Senetala was apprehended and transported to the Fagatogo Central Police Station for questioning. Prior to transportation, a body search was done, and police discovered two rolled cigarettes wrapped together inside a white blank piece of paper, along with 3 small stamp-sized baggies containing green leafy substance inside Senetala’s right pocket:

Senetala told police the rolled cigarettes were marijuana cigarettes andthe green leafy substance was leaves he got from a friend, who is selling marijuana on the road in the Iliili area. He did not reveal to police his friend's name.

When asked about the alleged incident where he attempted to break into a store in the village, Senetala said he doesn’t know anything about that case. He further stated to police that all of last year until February of this year, he’s worked as a security guard, from 9p.m until 6a.m., and he didn’t have time to break into family houses or stores at night.