Court accepts plea agreements in two unrelated cases
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A woman accused of violating local drug laws has entered into a plea agreement with the government.
Grace Tagaloa, who has been in custody since her arrest earlier this year, unable to post a $5,000 surety bond, appeared in High Court yesterday morning for a Change of Plea hearing. Assistant Public Defender Rob McNeill represented her, while prosecuting was Assistant Attorney General Christy Dunn.
Tagaloa was originally charged with one count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance (marijuana). a felony punishable by a jail term of 5-10 years, and a fine between $5,000 and $20,000 or both.
But under a plea agreement with the government, Tagaloa pled guilty to a lesser-amended charge. Tagaloa admits that on Feb. 3, 2019 she unlawfully possessed a hand rolled marijuana joint, which was for her own personal use.
According to terms of the plea agreement, Tagaloa and a male, identified as Lemi Fiu were riding in a taxi that pulled into the Tafuna substation parking lot on the day in question. An officer allegedly saw Tagaloa throw an object "across and over the head of the male passenger, who was sitting directly across from her."
The officer claims that the object went past Fiu's head and out through the right rear door of the vehicle. And when he approached the taxi to look at what was thrown, it "appeared to be a hand-rolled cigarette" of a green leafy substance, lying on the ground next to the taxi.
The officer said he picked up the cigarette and asked both passengers to go inside the substation for questioning.
"Both of them pointed at each other, and blamed each other," said the officer.
Tagaloa and Fiu were placed in two separate rooms.
Fiu told police that it was Tagaloa who threw the marijuana joint, to make it look like it was he — so he would get blamed for it.
After the court accepted her plea agreement, Associate Justice Fiti Sunia released Tagaloa on her own recognizance to await sentencing, but with two conditions: She has to submit herself to random testing upon demand by a Probation officer or a cop; and she has to surrender her travel documents to the government.
Tagaloa will be sentenced July 11th.
A 45-year-old taxi driver accused of assisting two young men who burglarized and stole several items from a home in on the west-side of the island has entered into a plea agreement with the government.
Isitolo Mulipola was originally charged with one count of stealing, a class C felony, punishable by imprisonment term of up to 7 years, a fine of up to $5,000 or both. However, in a plea agreement with the government, Mulipola pled guilty to the amended count of conspiracy to commit stealing, a class D felony, punishable by imprisonment of up to 5 years, a fine of up to $5,000 or both.
Mulipola admits that on Mar. 29, 2018 he assisted two men who stole items from a home in Nuuuli by using his taxi to transport the stolen items and deliver them to his home in Vaitogi in an effort to conceal it from everyone, including the police.
He further admits that he parked his taxi in front of the home, pretending he was waiting for a passenger. Instead, he was the lookout for the two men who were in the house committing the crime of stealing.
The government recommends that Mulipola be ordered to pay restitution of $752
Mulipola, who is out on a $5,000 surety bond, will be sentenced July 16th.