Courts hear several drug cases — both meth and marijuana
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man who is on probation for stealing and burglary was arrested again on the allegation he violated local drug laws.
Iasoni Moana was a passenger in a pick-up truck that was pulled over by police two weekends ago in Malaeimi where a glass pipe containing a white crystalline substance and a baggie containing a green leafy substance were found inside his pants pocket.
The government claims that on the early morning of Oct. 5, 2021 around 5:45a.m, two police officers patrolling the Nu’uuli and Malaeimi public highway observed a pick-up truck with an expired tag on the rear license plate.
Police officers immediately pulled the vehicle over — two male individuals were inside. Moana, the defendant, was a passenger.
The driver of the vehicle, Talatasi Tavita is the owner of the vehicle, who provided his valid immigration I.D and driver’s license to officers. The vehicle registration had expired in August 2020. Tavita received traffic citations from the officers for violating traffic laws.
While officers were speaking to the driver, the defendant, Moana, opened the passenger’s door and exited the vehicle. He was instructed by an officer to get back inside the vehicle; however, Moana continued to stand outside of the vehicle ignoring the officer’s request.
While Moana was walking around at the back of the vehicle, he tried to reach inside the left pocket of his pants, including trying to avoid the officer who walked over to him.
Officers instructed Moana to remove his hands from his pocket, but Moana did not comply. Officers immediately arrested him and placed him inside the police unit.
A body search was conducted on Moana whereby officers discovered a glass pipe containing a white crystalline substance that later tested positive for meth. Officers also found a small stamp-sized baggie containing green leafy substance during the body-search. The green leafy substance was tested and turned out positive for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
The defendant told officers he got the glass pipe containing meth and the bag of marijuana from his friend for $30, and the reason he smoked meth is to give him strength while working at his plantation. Marijuana was for his friend.
The driver of the vehicle was also interviewed by police and told officers that Moana flagged him down for a ride and asked him to drop him at his friend’s in Mesepa.
According to the driver’s statement, it was on their way to drop Moana to his friend’s house when officers pulled over his vehicle for an expired tag.
Moana made his initial appearance in court. He’s charged with one count of unlawful possession of meth and one count of unlawful possession of marijuana, both unclassified felonies, punishable by term of imprisonment from 5 to 10 years, a fine not more than $20,000, or both.
Bail is set at $5,000.
A father of five convicted of unlawful possession of illegal drugs was released from the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) last week for 90 days to seek and secure gainful employment.
If Filemoni Siaosi is unable to secure gainful employment, the court ordered him to report back to the TCF to serve the remaining balance of his period of detention.
Siaosi, who had been in custody unable to post a $10,000 surety bond appeared in court last month for sentencing, however, due to his outstanding traffic fine in District Court in the amount of $350, the High Court continued sentencing and ordered him to clear his outstanding traffic fine first before the court considers his sentencing.
Siaosi appeared in court last week for sentencing, with his defense attorney informing the court that his client had paid his outstanding fine in full.
When given the chance to address the court, Siaosi apologized for his actions and begged the court for a second chance to return home to provide for his family — especially his wife and five young children.
Defense attorney told the court that his client was gainfully employed before he was arrested in January of this year. He worked as a carpenter for over 15 years and he was the sole provider for his family while his wife stayed home to care for their children.
He then asked the court for a probated sentence without any additional period of detention.
The government’s attorney seconded the defense attorney’s request and asked the court to adopt the recommendation by the Probation office through the Pre Sentence Report (PSR).
After considering mitigating factors from both parties, along with the defendant’s statement, the court sentenced Siaosi to 5 years imprisonment and a fine of $2,000. Execution of the sentence was suspended, and he was placed on probation for 5 years subject to several conditions. He is to serve 10 months of his 20 month period of detention, credited for time served while awaiting the outcome of his matter.
Defendant is to be released for a period of 90 days in which time he shall secure and seek gainful employment. Defendant was told that for sure the cannery is hiring, and he must remember that family farming is not considered gainful employment.
If Siaosi is unable to secure gainful employment, the court ordered him to report back to the TCF and serve the rest of his detention. The court also ordered him to make sure to pay his $2,000 fine.
In addition, he is subject to the usual probation restrictions, including to stay clean; and he must submit himself for drug testing.
The court advised Siaosi that if he fails to comply with any of conditions of his probation, there will be no more discussion about probation, but the court will order him to serve the full 5 years at TCF.
A man accused of selling hand rolled marijuana cigarettes to two men last year has entered into a plea agreement. Manu Alesana, 35, of Tafuna appeared in court last week for a pretrial conference but pled out instead.
Alesana, a farmer, was initially charged with unlawful possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute; and unlawful possession of marijuana. But under a plea agreement with the government, accepted by the court, Alesana pled guilty to a lesser, amended charge, a class D felony punishable by up to 5 years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000 or both.
Alesana admits that on Nov. 24, 2020 in Tafuna, he sold 8 hand rolled marijuana joints — for $10 apiece — to two men he claims are his regular customers.
The case was reported to police by a woman who found 3 joints in her husband’s pocket. A verbal argument erupted between the couple, and it ended with the woman telling police that Alesana is her husband’s cousin, and he’s been selling drugs in the village for years — but nobody has reported it to police out of fear of Alesana and his family.
A search of Alesana’s home and plantation was carried out, where police found drugs, firearms, and drug paraphernalia.
Alesana, who is out on a $5,000 surety bond, will be sentenced Dec. 20th.
A man who was arrested for disturbing the public peace (PPD) and later found to be in possession of drugs has entered into a plea agreement with the government.
Faalagi Lesa appeared in court this week for a pretrial conference.
He was initially charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, a felony, and two misdemeanors: third degree assault and PPD. But under a plea agreement, accepted by the court, Lesa pled guilty to the amended, lesser charge of unlawful possession of marijuana, a class D felony that carries a sentence of up to 5 years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000 or both.
Lesa, set to be sentenced De. 28th, admits that on the evening of Oct. 21, 2020 at his home in Fogagogo, he had on him two hand rolled marijuana joints when police arrested him for PPD.
According to terms of the plea agreement, when cops arrived at the scene, Lesa was yelling profanities at his neighbor, with a beer bottle in his hand. During a body search, police found two hand rolled marijuana cigarettes on him. Lesa admitted that the joints belonged to him, and he bought them from a man named “DAYS” in Vaitogi.