COURT REPORT: A look at last week's cases
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The second of the four defendants arrested after police executed two search warrants last January at homes in Tafuna and Taputimu has entered into a plea agreement with the government.
Apelu Alesana, who has been in custody since his arrest, unable to post a $5,000 cash bond, appeared in High Court last week for a Change of Plea hearing.
He was originally charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a felony punishable by 5-10 years in jail, a fine of $5,000-$20,000, or both.
However, in a plea agreement with the government, Alesana pled guilty to the amended charge of unlawful possession of methamphetamine. He admits that on Aug. 23, 2019 he had on him two glass pipes containing methamphetamine.
According to court documents, cops executed a search warrant on a pickup that was parked in front of a Tafuna store last August. Alesana and another male individual were inside the vehicle when police approached them.
During a body search, officers discovered two glass pipes containing meth in Alesana’s front left pocket. When asked about the glass pipes, Alesana said he got them from a friend, who lived in Vaitogi.
Sentencing is set for Nov. 5th.
A young man convicted of another crime while still on probation was ordered to serve out his period of detention that had been suspended at the beginning of this year, which was 38 days at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF).
Valasi Tavita appeared in District Court for two separate hearings — a pretrial conference for his new case and disposition hearing for his previous case.
Court records show that while Tavita was on 6 months probation from a PPD conviction at the beginning of the year, he was arrested by police in February on another criminal charge, this time with trespassing, 3rd-degree assault and 3rd-degree property damage.
When Tavita’s case was called, his defense attorney, Ryan Anderson informed the court that they had reached an agreement with the government on his new case.
According to terms of the plea agreement, Tavita would pled guilty to 3rd degree property damage and both parties recommended probation on the condition that Tavita pays restitution in the amount of $760 for damaging the victim’s property.
Furthermore, both parties also recommended to the court not to revoke Tavita’s probation, but instead to modify it.
Facts of the case show that around February of this year, Tavita went to the victim’s home uninvited and damaged his property including a glass door to the house, a weed-eater; the door to the house and screen-wire on 3 windows, which cost $560.
In delivering its decision, the court reminded Tavita that when he appeared in court for sentencing on his previous matter, the court suspended his period of detention of 38 days. The court then revoked his probation and ordered him to serve the 38 days at the TCF.
In the new matter, the court sentenced him to 6 months probation under the conditions that he pay restitution in the amount of $560 and serve 45 days at the TCF. He was credited for the two months he served at TCF while awaiting the outcome of his case.
Since Tavita had served more time than the period of detention the court ordered him to serve, he was released from custody after sentencing.
Tavita was also reminded that the court wants to see that he has paid half of his restitution when he appears in court on Dec. 21st for a probation review hearing.
Furthermore, the court ordered Tavita to attend anger management, be law abiding and look for a job to pay his restitution.
The victim, who was in court during Tavita’s court proceeding hugged the defendant outside of the courtroom. According to the government’s case, the victim is the defendant’s
The driver of a truck in which investigators allegedly found a bag containing a white crystalline substance and drug paraphernalia has been arrested and charged with unlawful possession of drugs.
Roy Iosua made his initial appearance last month. He later waived his right to a preliminary examination and his case has been bound over to High Court.
Iosua, 40, is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a felony punishable by imprisonment of 5-10 years, a fine between $5,000-$20,000 or both.
Bail is set at $5,000.
Two police officers patrolling the Tafuna public highway on the early morning of Aug. 23, when they observed a speeding pick-up coming from the West. They further observed that the driver of the vehicle was not wearing his seatbelt. The officers initiated a traffic stop and pulled over the pick-up.
The driver identified himself to the officers as Roy Iosua, the defendant in this case. He was alone in the vehicle.
Before officers could explain to Iosua the reason for the stop, the defendant quickly told officers that he had forgotten his driver’s license at home but it’s still valid. He also told officers that his immigration ID is still valid, but he doesn’t know where he put it.
As they spoke, officers noticed that Iosua was nervous and fidgeting a lot. Officers then informed Iosua was that they were going to impound his vehicle at the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS) because he did not have a driver’s license or other ID.
Prior to transportation to TPS, officers conducted a body search on Iosua, as per norm, and found a small baggie containing white crystalline substance inside his right pocket. Nothing was found inside the vehicle when officers conducted an inventory search on it.
When asked about the baggie’s contents, Iosua admitted to police that the methamphetamine belonged to him. He told officers that he’s not a dealer but he only uses meth occasionally. Iosua apologized to officers for his actions and begged them for a second chance.
An hour later, Iosua’s wife arrived at the TPS with the defendant’s driver’s license and his Immigration ID.
A man was arrested by police for allegedly assaulting a man in front of an Asian store in the Tafuna area. The victim had allegedly attempted to steal a bag full of items from the defendant’s vehicle parked in the store’s parking lot.
Afioa’e Tafilele, the defendant, made his initial appearance in court two weeks ago.
He is charged with 3rd degree assault; public peace disturbance and property damage in the 3rd degree, all misdemeanors.
Tafilele is now released on his own recognizance while awaiting his next court appearance, which is scheduled for Oct. 25th, 2020 at 8:30a.m.
Officers interviewed some of the witnesses of the alleged incident.
The first witness told police that the two men involved in this incident were both inside the store. The defendant was paying for his shopping while the victim was standing behind him. After Tafilele paid for his shopping, he exited the store and walked to his vehicle and put his shopping inside while the victim followed him outside.
Tafilele then walked back inside the store. It was at that time the witness saw the victim run towards the defendant’s vehicle, open the back door and grab the shopping bag full of items.
The defendant saw what was happening and immediately ran out to his vehicle and allegedly grabbed the victim’s shoulder and pushed him away while the victim was still holding the bag in his right hand.
After a brief confrontation between the two men, the defendant punched the victim in the face causing him to fall on the ground. The defendant also kicked the victim’s back and leg while he was on the ground. The defendant also damaged the victim’s cell phone.
A crowd of people immediately rushed to the scene and were able to pull the defendant away.
Three other witnesses were questioned by police regarding the alleged incident, and they all shared the same statement of what happened. One witness told police that the victim threatened to kill the defendant by shooting him after he was assaulted by the defendant.
When questioned by police regarding the alleged incident, the defendant admitted to the allegation and immediately apologized for his actions.
Tafilele told police what happened, including that the victim threw the first punch — at his chest — when he grabbed the victim’s shoulder. Tafilele explained that’s when he turned around and punched the victim in the face causing him to fall on the ground. Out of anger, he also kicked the victim in the back and his leg while he was lying on the ground.
It’s not clear at this time whether the government is going to prosecute the victim for attempted stealing.