Drug charges filed against 2 of the 3 men who were arrested for PPD
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Two of the three men arrested on allegations that they disturbed the public peace in Kokoland last week are now facing additional charges.
All three defendants: Rodney Mata’u, Vainalepa Toia, and Salu Tufuga made their initial appearances in District Court last week, on charges of third degree assault and public peace disturbance — both misdemeanors.
The court released Tufuga on his own recognizance to await his first pretrial conference, set for Sept. 10th while Mata’u and Toia were remanded back to the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) and were ordered to appear in court the following day for a status hearing.
As conditions of release, Tufuga is ordered not to set foot in the Asian store where the alleged incident took place; remain law abiding; and not make any direct or indirect contact with the government’s witnesses, including the victim and his two co-defendants.
When Mata’u and Toia appeared in court for a status hearing last Thursday, they were each served a copy of an arrest warrant — with the affidavit — containing the additional charges against them.
Mata’u is charged with unlawful possession of methamphetamine; while Toia is charged with unlawful possession of methamphetamine and marijuana.
Bond for each man is $5,000 surety, and their preliminary examination is this Friday.
The government claims that on the night of Aug. 6, 2019 a woman reported that her nephew and his male friend were assaulted by 3 men, who were engaged in a drinking session.
The woman told police that her nephew, 24, was at his friend’s house, and the two were heading to a store when one of the defendants asked her nephew for a cigarette.
When her nephew said he did not have a lighter, one of the men allegedly pushed and punched him. Later, both her nephew and his friend were assaulted by the three defendants, according to the woman.
Both victims sustained minor injuries on their faces but refused medical treatment, saying they were fine.
According to the nephew, he and his friend were on their way to the store to buy some food when one of the men — engaged in a drinking session in the back of a truck — called him to come over, and asked him for a cigarette.
The victim said when he and his friend told the men that they don’t smoke, one of the defendants replied, “You better disappear before something happens to the both of you.”
The nephew told police that one of the defendants pushed him on the shoulder, challenging him to a fist fight. According to the government, all three men assaulted the nephew first, and when his friend jumped in to help, he too was assaulted.
Police apprehended all three men in front of a Fagaima store and placed them under arrest for safety reasons. A body search was carried out to ensure the men didn’t have any weapons. Police discovered in Mata’u’s pocket, 2 stamp-sized baggies containing a white crystalline substance.
On Toia, police found a glass pipe containing a white crystalline substance and one hand-rolled joint inside a black pouch. The white crystalline substance and the green leaves from the hand-rolled joint tested positive for meth and weed.
Mata’u and Toia allegedly admitted — in their statements to police — that the drugs found belonged to them.
Mata’u further told police he bought the 2 baggies of meth from his friend in Vaitogi. He did not identify his friend by name. Toia, on the other hand, told police that the glass pipe was from his friend, a taxi driver, and the marijuana joint was given to him by Satuala Apelu of Tafuna.
According to court records, both Mata’u and Toia have prior felony convictions.
Mata’u was sentenced in 2011 to serve 28 months at TCF as a condition of his 7-year probation, for a stealing conviction. Mata’u had broken into a Mesepa home and stole several items worth more than $2,400
Toia was sentenced in 2012 to serve 20 months at the TCF as a condition of his 5-year probation, following a conviction for marijuana possession.