Court still unable to ‘get to the bottom’ of halted drug tests at TCF
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Sierra Isaia’s revocation hearing yesterday has been continued for the fourth time — this came after last week’s hearing where Chief Justice Michael Kruse said that the court would not rest until it gets to the bottom of the case and finds out who stopped probation officers from conducting a drug test on the defendant at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF).
At yesterday’s hearing the court ordered subpoenas for all correctional officers working on the morning shift of Mar. 4, 2020 when two probation officers visited the TCF to conduct drug tests on several inmates, including Isaia.
When the government’s attorney informed the court that her investigators had received a list of all TCF officers working on the day of Mar. 4th, Kruse said that the court wants all of them under oath.
The government’s attorney informed the court that once investigators finalize the list, they would put the case back on the court calendar.
It was during last week’s hearing when the government called three TCF officers, who worked on the day in question to the witness stand.
They were Vaataape Anapapa, Maua Talasoo, and Alefosio Faamoana.
All three started their careers as TCF officers in December of 2019.
According to his testimony under oath, Anapapa told the court that he remembered working on the day in question but he didn’t recall the unit his supervisor assigned him to station.
When the government’s attorney asked the witness if he remembered working at the Alpha Unit on the day in question, Anapapa paused for few seconds before he responded that he remembered working at the Alpha unit.
The government’s attorney asked Anapapa whether he remembered seeing two probation officers in the TCF compound on the day in question, the witness answered, “I do not recall.”
The Prosecutor asked the witness again if he had seen a correctional officer (C.O) by the name of [Li’a] Milo escorting two probation officers at the Alpha unit.
The witness said, no.
When asked to explain his assignment on the day in question, Anapapa said that he didn’t recall his assignment on that day. The only thing he remembered was that he was assigned to the Alpha unit by his supervisor and he stayed there for the whole shift. He never came to the front office that day nor did he see any probation officers walking around the TCF compound.
Chief Justice Kruse intervened and reminded Anapapa that he’s under oath. Anapapa responded by saying he understood but he didn’t remember if he saw any probation officers in the TCF compound on Mar. 4th.
Kruse turned to the probation officer, Tafito Aitaoto (one of the two probation officers who went to the TCF to conduct drug tests on Mar. 4th) and asked whether he recognized the witness.
Aitaoto said, “No”.
The second witness was called to the stand.
During his testimony, Talasoo confirmed to the court that he worked on the day in question and he was assigned to the Alpha Max.
During his shift, Talasoo stated that there was never a time he left his post because he was assigned to monitor the back of the Alpha Max, especially the spot where inmates had been known to escape.
Throughout his whole shift, Talasoo told the court that he never saw any probation officers coming into the Alpha Max, nor did he get a chance to speak to anyone beside the inmates in the unit.
Prosecutor Garvey asked Talasoo if he ever saw TCF officer [Li’a] Milo escorting two probation officers to the Alpha Unit that day to conduct a drug test on Isaia,
Talaso’o replied, “No”.
“Do you remember seeing any probation officers walking around the TCF compound on Mar. 4th?” Garvey asked the witness.
Talasoo responded with another no.
The third witness called to the stand was Alefosio Faamoana, who told the court that he was assigned to a station at the Alpha 4.
When asked by the government’s attorney if he ever spoke to any probation officers while he was on duty, Faamoana said, no. He said that he was busy with his assignment and there was no time to walk around the compound.
When asked to describe to the court which part of Alpha Unit he was assigned to station, Faamoana stated that he was assigned at the Max Block. His duty is to monitor everyone serving their detention inside the Max Block.
The government’s attorney asked the witness again if he ever saw corrections officer Milo escort two probation officers from the main office to the Alpha unit to conduct a drug test for inmates including Isaia, and the witness replied no.
Kruse asked probation officer Aitaoto if he recognized either of the last two witnesses. Aitaoto said no.
After hearing testimony from all three witnesses, Kruse then stated that the court is going to subpoena the list of all corrections officers working on the day of Mar. 4th.
Kruse assured both sides throughout this proceeding that the court would not rest until it gets to the bottom of the issue — who stopped probation officers from conducting the drug test on Isaia.
This case got the attention of the court after two probation officers filed a report back in May of this year regarding an alleged incident that happened in the TCF compound during their visit in the month of March. The report stated that the two probation officers feared for their safety when another inmate allegedly tried to interfere with their job.
That inmate was Gabriel Tinai.
The two probation officers are Deputy Probation Officer Saipale Vaouli and his co-worker, Tafito Aitaoto.
As a result of the inmate’s action, the two Probation officers left TCF unable to conduct a drug test on Isaia.
Isaia, 42, is serving 80 months at the TCF for a drug conviction after pleading guilty to charges in two cases. In the first case, he pled guilty to the amended count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine. He also agreed to plead guilty to the amended count of unlawful possession of meth in the second case.