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Drunk man arrested for allegedly starting trouble in a Tafuna store parking lot

American Samoa District Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 25-year-old male accused of disturbing the peace this past Saturday afternoon made his initial in District Court yesterday morning, where he entered a ‘not guilty’ plea to the charges against him.

Jason Vavega is charged with third degree assault, third degree property damage, resisting arrest. and public peace disturbance — all class A misdemeanors.

Defense attorney, Ryan Anderson asked the court to release his client on his own recognizance, saying he is a first-time offender and the allegations against him are not serious. The prosecutor did not oppose the defense motion.

Judge Elvis P. Patea granted the motion and released Vavega under certain conditions that include him being alcohol and drug free. He is also ordered not to leave or attempt to leave the territory while his case is pending.

 “You are not allowed to go back to the Asian store compound at any time. If you fail to comply with any of these conditions, you will be brought back to court, and the court will send you to the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) and you will stay there until your case is resolved,” Patea told the defendant.

The government claims that on July 27, cops apprehended an individual later identified as Vavega, for disturbing the peace in the parking lot of an Asian-owned store in Tafuna.

Officers working on the west side said they were in the store parking lot when they heard someone shouting profanity, both in Samoan and English.

Cops approached the crowd and observed Vavega not only yelling profanities, but also challenging people to a fight.

Police intervened and apprehended the defendant who was then transported to the Tafuna Substation where he was booked and taken to the TCF to await his appearance in District Court.

According to the 42-year-old male victim, he was shocked when a male who appeared highly intoxicated entered the store and punched him in the face.

He said he exited the store in an effort to keep the peace; however, the man continued to follow him outside the store. He then threw a beer can at him, which missed his head but hit and cracked his vehicle’s rear window.

During the booking process, police could smell a strong odor of alcohol on Vavega’s breath and his eyes were bloodshot red.

Pretrial conference is Aug. 29th