Burglary suspect now also facing drug charges
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 30-year-old man who was picked up by police, pursuant to an arrest warrant from the court, on the allegation that he unlawfully entered the home of another family and stole several items including power tools and two laptops, is now being charged with unlawful possession of drugs.
The government has filed two separate criminal cases against Vainalepa Amituana’i, who is not new to the court system. He made his initial appearance in District Court last month.
In the first case, Amituana’i is charged with stealing and second degree burglary, both class C felonies, punishable by imprisonment of up to 7 years, a $5,000 fine or, pursuant to A.S.C.A 46.2101, a fine equal to twice the amount of gain from the commission of said crime, up to a maximum of $20,000, or both such fine and imprisonment.
In the second case, he is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, and unlawful possession of methamphetamine — both felonies punishable by term of imprisonment from 5-10 years, a fine of up to $20,000, or both.
Bond is set at $15,000.
Amituanai’s attorney asked to have bail reduced to $5,000 surety for both cases; but the prosecutor pointed asked that bail be maintained in both cases and the court agreed.
When asked to sign the copy of the criminal complaint for the second case against him, Amituana’i refused.
On Nov. 24, 2020, a couple reported to police that their Tafuna home was burglarized by an unknown person, and a lot of personal belongings were stolen.
Two weeks later, a man who claimed to be Amituana’i’s uncle told police about some stolen items that were brought into their home by his nephew, the defendant. He further stated when he confronted his nephew about the items seen at his house, his nephew said the items were stolen by one of his friends.
Police spoke to a male who said it was Amituana’i who broke into the couple’s home on Nov. 22nd, and stole personal items.
Amituana’i was picked up at his Vaitogi home and taken in for questioning. He allegedly admitted to investigators that he had broken into the couple’s home and taken a number of items on the night of Nov.22nd. He went on to say that some of the items he stole were sold to a man in Iliili in exchange for drugs, while others were given away for free to some of his friends in the village.
Amituana’i was released after the interview, because he promised he would provide the names of the people he sold the stolen items to. However, police didn’t hear from the defendant.
At around 5:12p.m on Dec.28th, police were on their way to execute an arrest warrant for Amituana’i when they spotted him in front of a Fagaima store talking to two males.
Cops pulled over and Amituana’i was escorted to the police unit. During a pat down, a clear ziplock baggie fell from the right side of his shorts. In the baggie was what appeared to be a 1-inch hand rolled joint covered with a piece of cardboard. The contents later tested positive for marijuana.
Police also discovered a glass pipe (commonly used to smoke meth) containing a white crystalline substance — which later tested positive for meth — inside a small black bag that Amituanai had on him.
Amituana’i signed the arrest warrant for the burglary case; however, he refused to make a statement regarding the marijuana joint and the broken glass pipe containing meth. When asked about the drugs, Amituana’i refused to talk but told police to go ahead with whatever they found on him. He said he understood what he did, but didn’t want to offer any more information regarding the incident.
When asked about the items he allegedly stole from the couple’s home, Amituana’i told police he gave most of them to a man named Victor from Malaeimi.
Amituana’i was one of the three men the High Court sentenced to serve 28 months detention in Nov. 2012 following a sexual assault conviction for a case involving a 14-year-old girl.