Court Report: Drug cases continue to hit the local court
COURT REPORT w_header
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The driver of a vehicle pulled over by police for several traffic violations is now facing additional charges for violating local drug laws. When questioned by investigators regarding illegal drugs allegedly found inside his vehicle, the driver, Willie Talosaga stated that someone from his family has set him up by placing these illegal drugs inside his vehicle.
On the morning of Saturday, May 23, 2020, two police officers patrolling the Leone area pulled over a vehicle for speeding and also for blacked out rear lights. The officer also noticed that the driver was not wearing his seatbelt.
As officers approached the vehicle, the driver immediately opened his door and exited the vehicle. Officers instructed him to get back inside his vehicle, and he complied politely. Talosaga was informed of the reason for the stop and he was asked for his driver’s license, and in the event he didn’t have a driver’s license, a photo ID so officers could officially identify him.
Talosaga did not possess a driver’s license nor did he have any sort of identification on him. He informed officers that all of his photo IDs cards were at home.
Talosaga was told the vehicle would be impounded because of no driver’s license nor any other photo identification.
A pat down was conducted at the scene and officers discovered a small stamped-sized baggie containing green leafy substance inside Talosaga’s left pocket. Officers also searched the vehicle and discovered a glass pipe (commonly used to smoke methamphetamine) containing white crystalline substance lying under the passenger’s seat.
The defendant was transported to the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS) for further investigation and his vehicle was impounded.
Talosaga was informed of his Constitutional rights and he acknowledged understanding the document and wished to make a written statement.
Talosaga told investigators that he was on his way to his mother’s house to pick up his daughter when his vehicle was pulled over.
Prior to the traffic stop, he stated that his sister and her children borrowed his vehicle in the morning to go shopping; and he had a strong feeling that someone placed the illegal drugs inside his vehicle.
When asked about the baggie containing green leafy substance found inside his pocket, Talosaga stated that he found the baggie under the passenger’s seat after his vehicle was returned to him and he picked it up and put it in his pocket.
He further stated that his sister and her children don’t like him and he had a feeling that someone did this to set him up.
The white crystalline substance found inside the glass pipe was tested and yielded positive results for methamphetamine. The green leafy substance found inside the defendant’s pocket was also tested and yielded positive results for marijuana.
Talosaga made his initial appearance in court where he was charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine and one count of unlawful possession of marijuana, both unclassified felonies.
Bail is set at $10,000.
MAN FLEES AFTER ALLEGEDLY ASSAULTING WIFE AND STEPDAUGHTER, WHEN ARRESTED DRUGS ALLEGEDLY FOUND
A man from Samoa who currently resides in Vaitogi is now in custody after police arrested him two weeks ago for allegedly assaulting his wife and stepdaughter. During a body search of the defendant, officers allegedly found illegal drugs in his possession.
According to the government’s case against the 40-year-old man, who has a criminal history in the court, the defendant was arrested when the vehicle he was driving was pulled over by detectives from the DPS Vice and Narcotics Unit in front of a store in Iliili two weeks ago.
The government filed two separate cases against the defendant.
In the first case, the defendant is charged with one count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine; and one count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance, marijuana; both felonies, punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than five or more than ten years, and a fine of not less than $5,000 or more than $20,000, or both.
In the second case the defendant is charged with two counts of 3rd degree assault involving domestic violence and one count of endangering the welfare of a child, both misdemeanors.
The defendant made his initial appearance in court two weeks ago. He is represented by Assistant Public Defender Bob Stuart while prosecuting the case is Assistant Attorney General, Laura Garvey.
During court proceedings, the defendant’s attorney requested a bail reduction to $5,000 from the initial amount of $15,000 that was set by the Court.
Stuart argued that although his client is being charged with two criminal counts, the two charges stem from one incident when his vehicle was pulled over by detectives after he ran away from home after allegedly assaulting his wife and stepdaughter.
He further argued that his client is not a flight risk, that he has no intention of leaving the territory and his family. The government opposed the defense motion for a bail reduction. The government’s attorney argued that $15,000 is a reasonable bail amount, based on the quantity of drugs that police allegedly found in the defendant’s possession.
After reviewing both arguments, the court denied the defense’s motion and maintained bail amount, subject to the usual conditions.
According to the government's case, it was 5:10 p.m on June 29, 2020 when a woman called 911 to report that her husband had allegedly punched her and slapped her 12-year-old daughter. The woman who called police was later identified as the first victim in this case.
She told police that her husband, later identified as the defendant in this case has fled the area as she was reporting the matter to police. The victim gave the description of the vehicle her husband was driving to police.
Two hours later about 7:20 p.m, detectives from the Vice & Narcotics Unit saw a vehicle pulling out of a parking lot at a store that matched the description given to police.
One of the police officers recognized the driver as someone that had two outstanding bench warrants from the District Court for failing to appear in two separate cases last year. They stopped the vehicle and notified him of the bench warrants. They further questioned him regarding a domestic violence incident at his home in Vaitogi and the defendant admitted to police that he assaulted his wife and stepdaughter for disobeying his instructions.
Before the defendant was placed inside the police unit, he was patted down. Prior to this, the defendant removed items from his pants pocket and placed it on the police vehicle. During the patdown, another police officer observed a black wallet with two small stamped-size baggies that contained a crystalline substance believed to be methamphetamine, and a small baggie containing green leafy material believed to be marijuana.
Other items that were pulled out from the defendant’s pocket included a pack of cigarettes, his driver’s license, a cell phone, and $450.
The substances tested positive for methamphetamine and marijuana.
His vehicle was searched for contraband at the scene, and police discovered paraphernalia including cut up straws.
The defendant and another male who was in the vehicle when it was pulled over, were transported to the Tafuna Police Substation.
When questioned by police, the defendant said he understood his rights and he agreed to make a statement regarding the alleged domestic violence.
According to the defendant’s statement, he gave $150 to his wife to pay their water and electricity bills, however he was shocked when two crew members from ASPA came up to their home to disconnect their water and electricity, saying that they had an outstanding arrears of over $300.
The defendant got mad at his wife and scolded her about the money he gave her to take care of the bill. A verbal argument erupted between the couple, which ended when the defendant punched his wife in the face causing her to fall down. It was then when the defendant heard his stepdaughter calling out to him to stop assaulting her mother or she would call 911.
The defendant walked over to his stepdaughter and slapped her in the face causing bruises.
After allegedly assaulting his wife and stepdaughter, the defendant got into his vehicle and fled the scene after he heard his wife calling 911.
When asked about the drugs found in his possession, the defendant admitted that the illegal drugs belonged to him. He further stated that he bought the drugs from a man so that he and his friend could relax.
The passenger of the vehicle was also interviewed by police and agreed to provide a written statement.
According to the witness, he and the defendant bought and smoked drugs twice over a period of two days. The first day was the previous night, June 27, 2020, and the second was the following day, June 28, at about 3 p.m, when his vehicle broke down in Petesa, and he contacted the defendant for help.
He said the defendant came and towed his vehicle to Peseta and on their way back, he and the defendant went to another man to buy some drugs. He told police that it was the defendant who went to the man’s house to buy drugs while he was waiting in the vehicle.
After buying the drugs, they stopped at a store in Petesa to buy some food and drink before their vehicle was pulled over by police officers.
Both victims were also interviewed by police where they echoed the defendant’s statement of what allegedly happen. The woman further stated to police that her husband has been involved with drugs for 5 months now.