District and High Courts jammed with PPDs, assault and drug cases
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The court has granted a 30-day continuance for several criminal matters against Elliott Siaumau Jr.
Last week, Siaumau Jr appeared in court for a pretrial conference in one case, a continued initial appearance in another, and an order to show cause to modify/revoke probation for a matter dating back to 2017.
According to attorneys from both sides, negotiations are still ongoing and more time is needed. The court has granted a 30-day continuance for all of Siaumau Jr's District Court and FDA court matters.
His next court appearance is June 27th
Siaumau Jr has other matters pending in High Court.
Judge Elvis P. Patea noted Siaumau Jr's "numerous appearances" before the court and told the defendant that he is "dangerously close" to having his bond revoked. It was also mentioned that the court clerks had to comb through Siaumau Jr's record, as his name is spelled different ways, and even in Samoan (Elioka).
Siaumau Jr. is currently out on bond. In District Court, the cases against him include charges of third degree assault, public peace disturbance, property damage, and resisting arrest — and outstanding traffic citations.
A woman who is charged with private peace disturbance and resisting arrest has been released on her own recognizance.
Salome Paepae made her initial appearance in District Court last Tuesday where she entered 'not guilty' pleas to the charges against her. A pretrial conference is set for June 20th.
Conditions of release include Paepae not making any direct or indirect contact with her family, and she is to reside elsewhere until her matter is resolved.
It is alleged that Paepae disturbed the peace at home during the early evening hours of May 20th. Police officers claim that Paepae punched an officer and threatened another cop, saying she is going to kill that cop when she is released.
According to police, Paepae's parents have asked that the daughter not return to their home in Vaitogi, and they want her to "stay away."
Police say Paepae's anger that night was directed towards her parents.
The next court date for a man charged with third degree property damage is June 11th.
Iakopo Selesele appeared in District Court last week. He was picked up after police got a call about a disturbance in Faleniu on Wednesday, May 22nd.
It was Selesele's mother who contacted authorities, claiming that the defendant was making loud noises at home, eventually breaking some items in the house.
The woman said she and her husband were "so scared" when Selesele went out and came back with a machete. She told police this isn't the first time her son has acted out violently, and she is worried that he might hurt her young children.
Police who responded to the call say they found Selesele in his room, with a machete in hand.
They were able to disarm him, and take him in custody.
A man who pled guilty to misdemeanor assault has been sentenced to 12 months probation, and ordered to attend and successfully complete an alcohol-counseling program, in addition to paying a fine of $150 in 45 days. The charge of public peace disturbance was dismissed.
Sipaea Toafia was advised by District Court Judge Elvis P. Patea, that if another person is drunk, "leave them alone". Because this is what happens — you say it's an accident and the other person says otherwise.
Patea told Toafia that when he first saw the photos provided by police, he initially wanted to "send you back to where you came from." He continued, "your actions are not excused."
According to the judge, "young people" have no business being involved in this type of behavior.
The main defendant in the Taputimu drug case appeared in High Court last week for a status hearing.
Cody Wood, who has been in custody since his arrest in 2017, unable to post a $200,000 surety bond, was represented by private attorney Thomas Jones while Assistant Attorney General Doug Lowe appeared on behalf of the government.
When Wood’s case was called, the prosecutor informed the court that the status hearing was called by the government, in an effort to find out who is going to represent the defendant during his trial which is set for next month.
Lowe said the defendant’s attorney on record is Richard deSaulles and based on his understanding, deSaulles is a defendant in one of the cases he’s handling.
“I want you to help me find out who is going to represent this defendant during his trial,” Lowe told the court.
Chief Justice Michael Kruse laughed and said, “You want me to find out who is going to represent Mr. Wood?"
Jones jumped in and said he spoke to deSaulles regarding this case and deSaulles told him that he would file a motion to withdraw himself from representing Wood.
Jones said he also spoke to Wood who told him that he wants to transfer his case to the Public Defender’s Office, while there is enough time for them to prepare for his trial.
Kruse told the government attorney that they (judges) can’t give out legal advice for cases that come before the court for trial. When Kruse asked Wood directly whether this is what he wants, to let the PD’s Office handle his case, Wood replied yes.
Wood is facing charges of unlawful possession of drugs after armed detectives of the DPS Vice & Narcotics Unit executed two search warrants, one for his home in Taputimu, and one for the home of another male in Alofau.
The government claims that during the search of Wood’s Taputimu home, they discovered drugs, paraphernalia, and a huge amount of cash.
A 36-year-old man from Samoa accused of violating local drug laws has pled guilty under a plea agreement.
Faasasao Mauga, who has been in custody since his arrest last year, unable to post a $5,000 surety bond, appeared in High Court last Friday for a Change of Plea hearing.
Mauga was a taxi driver when police arrested him on 30 Dec. 2018
He was initially charged with one count of unlawful possession a controlled substance (methamphetamine), a felony punishable by imprisonment of between 5-10 years and a fine between $5,000 and $20,000 or both.
Under a plea agreement with the government, which was accepted by the court, Mauga pled guilty to a lesser amended charge, a class D felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 5 years and a fine of not more than $5,000 or both.
Mauga admits that he had a glass pipe containing meth in his possession on the day in question.
Sentencing is set for July 5th.
Defense attorney Rob McNeill asked the court to release his client on his own recognizance, after the court accepted the plea agreement.
There was no objection from the prosecutor.
Chief Justice Michael Kruse then ordered the defendant to be released to the custody of the Chief Probation Officer for testing, to determine whether he’s drug and alcohol free, and to make sure he’s in compliance with Immigration laws.
Mauga was subsequently released. His drug test was negative and his ID is still valid.