Female driver pulled over in traffic stop, arrested when aisa pipe allegedly found
Pago Pago, AMERICA SAMOA — The female driver of a vehicle pulled over by police two weeks ago in Futiga for blacked out tail lights is now charged with violating local drug laws.
On May 4, 2020 about 12:00 midnight, a vehicle was pulled over by traffic officers at the Futiga Public Highway after they observed it had blacked out tail lights. Officers approached the driver, who was later identified as Charlotte Uili, the defendant in this matter. Police explained to Uili the reason for the vehicle stop.
According to the government, Uili did not possess a driver’s license nor did she have any sort of identification on her. She was told the vehicle would be impounded at the Tafuna Substation because she didn’t have a driver’s license.
A pat down search was conducted by a female police officer for weapons or drugs. A glass pipe commonly used to smoke methamphetamine, with some white residue in it, was found in Uili’s left pants pocket.
According to the two police officers who initiated the traffic stop, around midnight on May 4 while patrolling the West side of Futiga, they observed a white Yaris vehicle heading westbound approaching the CCCAS Church in Futiga with blacked out tail lights.
The vehicle was pulled over not far from U.S Mart store in Futiga. Officers approached the vehicle and observed that the driver was a female with a young male about five years old sitting in the passenger’s seat.
During a body search, a female officer discovered a hard object inside Uili’s left pant’s pocket. When asked what the hard object was, Uili smiled and replied, “It’s a gun” (a street name for glass pipes used to smoke meth).
The white residue inside the glass pipe was tested utilizing a field test, the test yielded positive results for methamphetamine.
When asked about the glass pipe containing methamphetamine, Uili told investigators that she was on her way to drop off her son to her sister when her vehicle was pulled over by police. She also saw a glass pipe and she was so nervous and scared — so she grabbed it and put it inside her pants pocket. The officer approached her vehicle and explained to her the reason for the stop but she was still nervous because of the glass pipe inside her pocket.
Uili made her initial appearance in District Court last week. She is represented by Bob Stuart while prosecuting the case is Laura Garvey.
Uili is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a felony punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than five nor more than ten years and a fine of not less than $5,000 nor more than $20,000, or both.
Bail is set at $5,000.
During Uili’s initial proceedings, her defense attorney informed the court that the defendant wished to have her preliminary examination (PX).
During PX, the government witness, Lt. Abel Penitusi, who is also the lead investigator in this case told the court that a glass pipe was found in the defendant’s possession during a pat down by officers on May 4th.
Defense attorney, Stuart asked the witness why the police officers who initiated the traffic stop conducted a body search on his client; and Lt. Penitusi told the court that this is their normal procedure when dealing with people who are under police custody for any alleged crime. They have to be searched for weapons and illegal drugs, not only for police officers’ safety but also their own safety.
Uli appeared in High Court yesterday morning for her initial appearance. Her next court hearing is set for next month.