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Charges filed against man in burglary of phone cards, cigarettes and cash

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The government has filed charges against Joseph Maalona, of second degree burglary a class D felony, punishable from five in jail, a fine of up to $5,000, and felony stealing a class C felony, which carries a jail term of up to seven years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000, a fine equal to twice the amount gain from commission up to $20,000 or both fines and jail time.

According to the government’s case, police received a call on Oct. 28, 2018 from the victim regarding his store that was allegedly broken into and the defendant and his co-defendant Alapati Foma’i were caught on the store’s video footage.

The storeowner showed the police the footage and informed them that the two men took off with phone cards, $300 cash and cigarettes. Upon viewing the footage, police identified one of the men in the video as Foma’i and they went to the defendant’s home in Pava’ia’i, and apprehended him, while a search for the other defendant at the time was unsuccessful.

Court filings say, when the police spoke to Foma’i, he admitted to breaking into the store and stealing the items with Maalona.

Police then went back to the defendant’s residence where they found the cigarettes from the burglary, and inside one of the rooms to the house police found an 18-year-old male individual that had multiple phone cards and about $40 cash on him. The 18-year-old told police that Maalona gave the money and phone cards to him.

The government has yet to file charges against Foma’i and the 18-year-old male individual.

Maalona made his initial appearance in District Court his week. He was represented by Assistant Public Defender Anna Wells, while prosecuting the case was Assistant Attorney General Jason Mitchell.

Judge Fiti Sunia established Maalona’s bail at $10,000.

If he posts his bond, the court ordered that the usual conditions be met, as well as not to make any direct or indirect contact with the victim nor the government’s witnesses, including his two friends, Foma’i and the 18-year-old male individual.

Maalona is scheduled to appear in court next week for his preliminary hearing.