High court rejects plea agreement — man says he did not possess any illegal drugs
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A signed plea agreement between the government and a man accused of unlawful possession of illegal drugs was rejected by Associate Justice Fiti Sunia last week, when the defendant told the court that he had not possessed any illegal drugs.
Faletoi Misiluti, a co-defendant in a case where armed Detectives of the DPS Vice & Narcotics raided a house in Vaitogi pursuant to an arrest warrant from the court, appeared in High Court last Friday for his Change of Plea hearing with the government.
Prosecuting the case was Assistant Attorney General Christy Dunn, while Assistant Public Defender, Rob McNeill represented Misiluti, who was released on a $5,000 surety bond.
The terms of the plea agreement were read out in open court.
Misiluti was initially charged with one count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance (marijuana), a felony that carries a prison sentence of not less than 5 year but not more than10 years, a fine of not less than $5,000 but not more than $20,000.
However, under the plea agreement that was rejected by the court, Misiluti pled guilty to the amended, and lesser charge of unlawful possession of a controlled substance (marijuana), a class D feloney, punishable by up to 5 years, a fine of up to $5,000 or both.
According to the plea agreement, Misiluti agreed to admit that on May 14, 2019 in Vaitogi, he unlawful possessed one hand rolled marijuana cigarette when police conducted a body searched on his person.
However, when Sunia, per usual with a plea agreement, asked the defendant if he admits that on May 14, he unlawful possessed one hand rolled marijuana cigarette, Misiluti said, “No.”
Sunia immediately rejected the plea agreement and scheduled another pretrial conference for this matter in Oct. 24, 2019.
Misiluti, along with his co-defendant Alesana Tipi, a.k.a Sulu were arrested when police executed a search warrant on Tipi’s residence in Vaitogi, pursuant to an order of the court.
During the search, police allegedly discovered drugs and paraphernalia. Misiluti was at Tipi’s house when police executed the search warrant.
The search of Tipi’s home was the result of a controlled buy one week earlier by police using a Confidential Informant (CI) in an effort to find proof that Tipi was involved in selling drugs from his home in Vaitogi, located on the road to Logotala Hill — in the area also known as “Le Filifili”.