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Another PPD arrest leads to drug bust

American Samoa District Court building
ausage@samoanews.com

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 42-year-old taxi driver accused of disturbing the peace at a Pago Pago store is now being charged with drug possession after police searched his vehicle and found a glass pipe containing methamphetamine (meth).

Thomas Tagiilima, a.k.a Tomasi Tagiilima who is on probation for a stealing conviction 3 years ago, made his initial appearance in District Court two weeks ago.

Togiaso is charged with unlawful possession of meth, a felony punishable by 5-10 years in jail, a fine of $5,000-$20,000; and 4 misdemeanors: public peace disturbance; third degree property damage; driving under the influence of alcohol; and third degree assault.

Bail is set at $5,000 and the preliminary examination is next week.

The court denied a defense motion to reduce bail to $2,500.

THE CASE

A woman who witnessed a verbal argument between two men outside a store in Nu’uuli two weekends ago contacted police for assistance, after the driver of a black pickup truck allegedly pushed another man and punched him in the face.

Police arrived at the scene and found a crowd forming in front of the store, while a man was sitting on the ground blocking the other side of the parking lot.

As cops approached the crowd, a black pickup that was parked in front of the store quickly pulled out and left the scene, heading west. Eyewitnesses informed officers that the driver of the pickup was the man who punched the victim.

According to the caller, he was sitting inside his vehicle with his wife and two daughters when two men started arguing to the left of them. He told police he heard the driver of the black pickup (the defendant) tell the other man (the victim) to reprimand his son before he does something to him.

The witness said in the middle of the verbal argument, the victim pushed the driver of the black pickup towards the side of his vehicle. The witness then saw the driver punch the victim once in the face, causing the victim to fall to the ground. The driver allegedly kicked the victim twice in the face while he was on the ground.

A police unit located the black pickup on the Tafuna road and immediately pulled it over. The driver was later identified as Tomasi Tagiilima, the defendant. Tagiilima admitted to police that it was he who assaulted the man in front of a store in Nu’uuli because that man’s son assaulted his daughter.

During a body search, police found in Tagiilima’s pants pocket a glass pipe containing white crystalline substance, which later tested positive for meth. When asked about it Tagiilima told police he bought a small plastic baggie containing meth from an old friend in Tafuna, and smoked some of it. Tagiilima further admitted that he had consumed alcohol prior to the incident in Nu’uuli.

Police were spoke to the victim at the LBJ Hospital where he was treated for minor injuries to his left eye. According to the victim, Tagiilima approached him and told him in a loud voice to reprimand his son before he does something to him.

When he asked what happened, the defendant told him that his son beat up Tagiilima’s daughter in church two days ago.

The victim told Tagiilima he didn’t know what he was talking about, but he would talk to his son regarding the allegation. On his way to his vehicle, the victim said Tagiilima followed him and continued to harass him about the same issue. It was then that he pushed Tagiilima and told him to shut up. That’s when Tagiilima punched him in the eye, causing him to fall down before he kicked him twice in the face while he was on the ground.

BACKGROUND

In July 2018, Tagiilima was sentenced to 5 years probation after he pled guilty to receiving stolen property. As a condition of probation, he was ordered to remain law abiding, serve  20 months at the TCF, and pay restitution of $951.