Man on 7-year probation, arrested for alleged possession of drugs
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man with a prior conviction for receiving stolen property 4 years ago was arrested last month for allegedly violating local drug laws.
Mikaele Tindale made his initial appearance in court last month. He’s charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine and one count of unlawful possession of marijuana, both unclassified felonies that carry a sentence of imprisonment for not less than five years 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 $10,000.
If he posts bond, Tindale is ordered not to violate any laws of the territory or any conditions of his 7-year probation from his previous conviction.
The government claims that on Oct. 27, 2020 at about 6:15 a.m, several police officers including detectives from the DPS Vice and Narcotics Unit responded to an incident involving a vehicle at a store parking lot in Lepuapua where drugs were discovered, during a traffic stop.
While officers were asking for the driver’s license and vehicle registration, one officer observed some paraphernalia including four empty stamp sized baggies and two cut up straws, laying on the floor on the passenger’s side.
Two individuals were inside the vehicle, a female driver and a male passenger who was later identified as Mikaele Tindale, the defendant in this matter.
One of the two traffic officers who originated the stop told investigators that he flagged down a vehicle with expired tags heading west towards Futiga. The vehicle did not stop but continued heading west at a high rate of speed.
Police units followed the vehicle and it was stopped at a parking lot of an Asian store in Lepuapua. The driver looked nervous and did not respond to officers’ questions. When asked about the reason why she did not stop her vehicle, the driver told the police she did not see them.
The officer further told investigators while he was speaking to the driver, the defendant at the same time was moving around, acting nervous.
The defendant and the driver of the vehicle were both informed by police officers that the vehicle was going to be impounded for expired tags, and both of them would be transported to the Tafuna Police Station (TPS) for further investigation.
Officers discovered a glass pipe with white crystalline substance and two hand rolled cigarettes containing green leafy substance in the defendant’s possession, cut up straws, empty baggies and a broken glass pipe commonly used to smoke meth.
The white crystalline substance was field-tested and the test results yielded positive for methamphetamine.
Nothing was found on the driver of the vehicle and she was later released after she was questioned by police.
The driver told the police that Tindale had stopped her vehicle and asked for a ride home. Tindale lives in Vailoa while the driver is from Leone.
When Tindale entered her vehicle, some stuff fell from his hands and lay on the floor of her vehicle under the passenger’s seat. The driver told police that Tindale told her that he went to Vaitogi to pick up his “stuff” from his supplier and that he wanted to get back home as quickly as he could before “he gets caught”.
The driver further told police that Tindale admitted to her that he had illegal drugs in his possession.
According to Tindale’s statement, he met his friend, the driver, two weeks prior to the incident and he was not aware that her vehicle tags were expired.
They drove around looking for someone who could buy the electric tools that were in the back of her vehicle, to get money to buy them drugs. The electric tools, according to Tindale’s statement, were stolen from another man.
Tindale told investigators they went to Vaitogi and Iliili before heading to Faleniu, and then back along the road heading towards Leone, when their vehicle was pulled over by police officers in Lepuapua.
He also told the investigators that at one point, in front of a store in Iliili, he found a small black pouch containing illegal drugs and paraphernalia and he gave it to the driver as they continued driving around looking for someone who would buy their stuff.
He stated that the stuff he found inside the small black pouch were paraphernalia such as cut up straws, empty small stamp-sized baggies, 2 lighters and a broken glass pipe, commonly used to smoke meth.
As they passed a store in Futiga, two police officers stationed there flagged them down but he told the driver not to stop because there are illegal drugs inside the black pouch in his possession and he needed to get rid of it as soon as possible.
As they continued to drive away from police, he tried to throw the black pouch outside of the vehicle, however, the police unit was behind them. So he pulled the drugs out and put it in his pocket, unaware that the vehicle tags were expired, along with his friend’s driver’s license.
Tindale told investigators that he was in jail for 17 months and he’s on a 7-year probation for a stealing conviction from 4 years ago. He has been staying clean and he has kids that he has been taking care of and he has stayed away from trouble during his probation.
The driver was questioned again by investigators regarding this incident. This time, she changed her story. She stated that she works at his uncle’s coffee stop in Tafuna, she doesn’t know Tindale personally, but she knows him from around her neighborhood. She picked up the defendant from Tafuna heading to Leone, and she was shocked when a police officer discovered a glass pipe containing methamphetamine and marijuana cigarettes in Tindale’s possession.
The driver further stated to investigators, as they heading westbound, Tindale asked her if he wanted “some stuff for the night.”
She looked at Tindale and asked him what he meant by “stuff for the night,” and Tindale smiled and whispered, “stuff to make you feel cool.” It was then that Tindale talked about his friend from the area called, “Le Aute” who always supplies him with “some good stuff.”
According to the driver, she asked Tindale if he was in possession of any illegal drugs. Tindale give her the look and said, “I don’t do those stuff.”
The driver stated that when their vehicle was pulled over by two police officers, Tindale turned to him and said, “Sister, I got some stuff with me that I need to get rid of before police officers arrive.” Before the two police officers got to the vehicle, the driver said Tindale started to move around and tried to reach into his pocket for something.
In May of 2016, Tindale was ordered to serve 28 months in jail as a condition of his 7-year probation after being convicted of stealing, a class C felony.
During his sentencing, Tindale told the court that it was his drug problem that pushed him to steal other people’s property. He promised the court that he would do his best not to have a problem with the law again, and he would quit doing drugs.
The court accepted his submission for a second chance but was told to address his drug problem and to make sure not to repeat it.