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Another former TCF guard catches a break with the court

Territorial Correctional Facility, TCF
No probable cause found in government's case against Leasi Neueli

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Assistant Attorney General Laura Garvey had no witnesses to call last Friday during the preliminary examination hearing of former Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) guard Leasi Neueli, one of five people initially arrested and charged in connection with an alleged drug operation at the local prison.

His four co-defendants are: former TCF officers Faavae Papatu and Jimmy Stanley; and Toeava brothers Vincent and Spencer.

Neueli was initially charged with four felonies: unlawful possession of marijuana; unlawful distribution of marijuana; unlawful possession of methamphetamine; and unlawful distribution of methamphetamine.

The government's failure to prove probable cause resulted in the case being dismissed without prejudice. District Court Judge Fiti Sunia reminded Neueli that the government may re-file the case against him in the future.

Neueli, who was out on bond, walked out of court a free man last Friday.

He is the second former prison guard whose case has been dismissed without prejudice. Last Thursday, it was Jimmy Stanley. (See Samoa News Friday, Jan. 25, 2019 edition for details).

Meanwhile, the case against their former co-worker Faavae Papatu has been bound over to High Court where he is scheduled to be arraigned today. Two of the initial four charges against him were dismissed by Judge Sunia, however.

Vincent Toeava waived his right to a preliminary examination last Friday and his case has been bound over to High Court. He remains in custody on $20,000 bond for this case, and $450,000 bond for the food stamp fraud case for which he was arrested and charged last year.

His brother, Spencer Toeava is set for arraignment this morning, after Judge Sunia found that there was probable cause to bind over all four charges against him last Friday. (See separate story for details of the hearing).