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Bench warrant issued for meth defendant

American Samoa High Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Chief Justice Michael Kruse has issued a bench warrant to arrest a young man who failed to appear in High Court for arraignment last week.

After waiving his rights to a preliminary examination (PX) before District Court Judge, Fiti Sunia last Wednesday, Fidelis Taumalua was scheduled to appear in High Court for arraignment on Friday.

But when his case was called, he was not present in court. Kruse then issued a bench warrant.

One of the conditions of his release on a $2,000 surety bond is that he make all of his court appearances.

Taumalu is charged with one count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance to wit; methamphetamine, a class D felony.

The charge against Taumalua stems from an incident that occurred on Sept. 23, 2018 when police stopped a pickup in Nu’uuli during a traffic stop and discovered that the vehicle was using a false license plate. Taumalua was one of the three people inside the truck.

The vehicle was impounded by police who later found a clear glass pipe with a usable amount of methamphetamine inside. An inventory was conducted by two other cops who discovered two more glass pipes containing crystalline substance, along with several empty small ziplock baggies commonly used to package methamphetamine, on the passenger side where Taumalu was sitting.