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Drugs, assault and stealing charges crowd court dockets

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A driver of a vehicle pulled over by cops for not stopping at a stop sign is charged for violating local drug laws after police discovered a glass pipe containing methamphetamine (meth) inside his vehicle.

Palekasala Taupau made his initial appearance in District Court two weeks ago.

He is charged with a single count of unlawful possession of meth, a felony, punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than 5 nor more than 10 years, a fine of up to $20,000.

Bail is set at $5,000.


The government alleges that on January 9, 2022 around 3:30p.m, a traffic police officer from the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS) requested the Vice and Narcotic K-9 Unit (VNKU) for assistance regarding a vehicle stop where a glass pipe with white residue inside it was discovered.

A police detective from the VNKU responded to the call and met up with the traffic officer. According to the traffic officer, the vehicle was stopped on the Vaitogi public highway due to traffic violation, and the driver did not have a driver’s license or any form of identification.

The driver was identified as Palekasala Taupau, the defendant in this matter.

The driver was then told to exit the vehicle in order to be transported to the TPS for further questioning. When the driver exited the vehicle, officers discovered a glass pipe on the floor mat beneath driver’s seat, officers then asked the driver what it was and the driver responded, he didn’t know.

The glass pipe was confiscated and handed over to the VNKU. The white residue found inside the glass pipe was tested utilizing the test kit, results later confirmed a positive for meth.

At the TPS, the driver was Mirandized and he agreed to make a statement to investigators about what had happened.

According to his written statement, after picking up his girlfriend from a night club to take her home, he drove down to the Vaitogi area, when he and his girlfriend had an argument and he totally forgot about the stop sign. Police then stopped his vehicle and after police asked him to step out from his vehicle that’s when the police spotted a glass pipe on the floor mat and he had no knowledge about it.

He was later transported to the Territorial Correctional Facility where he was booked and confined.


A man accused of assaulting his wife at their Nu’uuli residence and attempting to hit her face with a hammer was arrested by police two weeks ago.

The defendant is charged with a single count of 2nd degree assault, a class D felony, punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to 5 years, a fine of up to $5,000 or both.

Bail is set at $15,000.


On Jan. 12, 2022, the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS) was contacted by the Fagatogo Police Central to relay a domestic violence case that was reported by a woman at her residence in Nu’uuli.

Police from the TPS contacted the woman who reported the matter and the victim told police that she had a verbal argument with her husband and he had grabbed her shoulder and yanked her and she fell onto the bed. Her husband then attempted to hit her with a cane, then went and grabbed a hammer from behind the door and again attempted to hit her face with it.

Officers responded to the scene and met up with the reporter at her residence in Nu’uuli where she confirmed to officers that she and her husband had had verbal arguments over the phone the whole day regarding a credit card.

The victim stated that her husband got off from work and started yelling at her telling her he does not own that credit card and threw it at her. The victim stated that she went into a room and her husband followed her yelling and trying to argue with her. It’s at this time, he allegedly tried to assault her.

The victim stated she ran outside of the house away from her husband to look for a phone to contact the police station for help. The victim’s 10-year-old daughter witnessed the incident.

The victim’s daughter stated that she was sleeping when she heard her father yelling at her mother, then she woke up and saw her dad holding a cane and attempting to hit her mother with it. Her father then went and grabbed a hammer from behind the door and attempt to hit her mother with it — pointing it at her face. The witness further stated that her mother got up and ran out then she followed her mother out of the house.

The defendant was apprehended and taken to the TPS for further investigation, where he was Mirandized before he was later transported to the Territorial Correctional Facility and, booked and confined.


A 30-year-old man from Malaeimi arrested for verbally threatening his neighbor is now charged with violating local drug laws. Iosua Faitala made his initial appearance in court last month.

The Tafuna Police Substation (TPS) received a phone call from a young man requesting police assistance after a man came to the family home with a machete and threatened to cut off his brother’s head.

Several police officers responded to the call and met up with the young man who had contacted police for assistance.

According to his statement, his family, including his parents, his young brother and two sisters were having a good time inside their home on the night when the alleged incident happened around 7p.m.

He claimed their neighbor walked in front of their house holding a knife in his hand and shouted out to his younger brother that if he continued to spread rumors about him (defendant) and his family, he would cut off his head with the knife. The man then left.

The man was later identified as Iosua Faitala, the defendant in this case.

Two days later, two police units arrived with several police officers in response to a public peace disturbance (PPD) call in Futiga after two men assaulted another man during a verbal argument in a store.

As officers investigated the PPD case, a police sergeant who was with the investigating team saw Faitala in the store. The police sergeant knew Faitala from another PPD case with which he was also involved three months ago, but was not arrested.

The police sergeant followed Faitala inside the store and approached him, informing him about the alleged case where he went with a knife to another family’s home and verbally threatened the family.

Faitala looked nervous and started to walk away from the officer, however, the officer called for other officers outside the store for assistance and Faitala was placed under police custody and transported to the TPS for further investigation.

Before the defendant was interviewed, a body search was conducted where a glass pipe containing meth and two hand-rolled marijuana joints were found in his pants pocket.

After he was Mirandized, he refused to make a statement to police.

He is charged with one count of unlawful possession of meth and one count of unlawful possession of marijuana, both unclassified felonies, punishable by imprisonment from 5 to 10 years, a fine of up to $20,000 or both; along with trespass and public peace disturbance, both misdemeanors.

Bail is set at $10,000.


Alisi Messer and Saupo Timo were arrested on the allegation they assaulted another individual. During their arrest, cops discovered illegal drugs in their possession.

Messer and Timo made their initial appearances in Court last month and they are each charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine (meth).

Bail for each defendant is set at $3,000.


On Dec. 2, 2021, a police detective of the DPS Vice and Narcotic K-9 Unit was informed of a matter at the Leone Police Substation (LPS) where traffic officers detained three adult individuals on suspicion of consumption and possession of alcoholic beverages on public roads. Illegal drugs were discovered later.

The VNKU police detective responded to the matter and met up with several traffic officers who briefed him on the matter — during routine patrol in Lepuapua, heading west, they observed three individuals walking near the road with beers cans.

The three individuals matched the description of suspects in an assault that was reported earlier near the same area. Officers then stopped the three individuals near the Marist Faasao High School and investigated.

The three individuals included a female by the name of Alisi Messer, co-defendant, and a male individual by the name of Timo Saupo, the second co-defendant in the matter. The third male individual is also mentioned in the court affidavit but was later released to go home.

Upon encountering the three individuals, it was revealed that Messer and Saupo were confirmed to be intoxicated. All three individuals were detained and later transported to the Leone Substation for further investigation. A body search was conducted on all three individuals prior to being transported.

Nothing was found on the third individual when he was patted down by officers. However, illegal drugs were allegedly found on Timo and Messer.

A pack of Kool cigarettes was discovered inside Timo’s left pocket that had a medium sized baggie containing a crystalline substance and a hand rolled marijuana joint. Officers also discovered a silver metal pipe used to smoke marijuana.

On Messer, a glass pipe containing a crystalline substance was discovered in her pocket.

Timo was Mirandized and agreed to make a statement regarding what was found in his possession. According to Timo’s verbal statement, the pack of Kool cigarettes that contained the drugs was found at his friend’s house where he hung out earlier. Although he waived his rights to make a statement, he refused to make it in writing.

Messer was also Mirandized, and she waived her rights and agreed to make a statement. According to Messer’s verbal statement, she admitted that she used to smoke back in the day but not anymore. She stated that the pipe that was found on her was given to her by a friend to give to another friend. However she would not reveal the identity of the two friends.

Both Timo and Messer were booked and later confined at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF).

The crystalline substance found on both defendants was tested and yielded a positive result for meth.


A woman convicted of stealing a rental car while on probation for another stealing conviction back in 2018 was given another chance by the court.

Lusia Malu appeared last week for sentencing and a disposition hearing.

Malu was initially charged with one count of stealing, for appropriating a rental car belonging to her aunty, a class C felony punishable by imprisonment for up to seven years, a $5,000 fine, or pursuant to A.S.C.A 46.2101, a fine equal to twice the amount of gain fro the commission of said crime, up to a maximum of $20,000, of both such fine and imprisonment.

Under a plea agreement with the government, accepted by the court last month, Malu pled guilty to the amended charge of stealing, a class A misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment of up to one year, a fine of up to $1,000 or both.

By her guilty plea, Malu admits that on June 11, 2021, she stole a rental car — by taking the keys without permission from her boyfriend who had rented it and crashing the car into a tree near a store in Nu’uuli while racing with another car. She left the car and ran away, while telling her boyfriend who rented the car that it had been returned to the car rental agency, a company owned by her aunty, Terry Laupola.

When given the chance to address the court, Malu apologized for her actions and begged for one more chance to return home to care for her young children and her parents. She told the court that she’s truly remorseful and wants to pay for the damages she caused to the vehicle. The damage to the rental car is over a $1,200.

Defense attorney asked the court to adopt the recommendation by Probation and sentence his client to a term of probation. The prosecutor echoed the defense’s submission saying that the defendant is a suitable candidate for a probated sentence.

According to the court, the defendant is already on probation for 7 years after she was convicted for stealing in 2017. A condition of her probation was to remain law abiding. However, Three years into her probation in June 2020, she committed another serious offense by stealing a rental car.

For stealing the vehicle, the defendant was sentenced to two years probation subject to several conditions including continuing employment at her current job to pay for outstanding restitution and a fine from her previous case.

She was ordered to serve a period of detention of two months, which was time she has already served while awaiting the outcome of her case.

For her Disposition Hearing, the court did not revoke her probation but modified its conditions. The defendant was ordered to comply with conditions of both her previous matter and the new matter before the court.

The court reminded the defendant that if she violated any conditions of her probation, there would be no more chances for her.