Man accused of burglarizing two homes last year arrested and charged
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man accused of burglarizing two homes, one in Kokoland and one in Fagaima between November and December of last year has been arrested and is now in custody, with bail set at $25,000.
Alema Taulaga made his initial appearance in District Court this week. He is represented by Assistant Public Defender Bob Stuart, while prosecuting is Assistant Attorney General Laura Garvey.
The government charged Taulaga in two separate cases.
In the first case, Taulaga is charged with second degree burglary and stealing, both class C felonies, punishable by up to 7 years in jail, a $5,000 fine or, pursuant to A.S.C.A 46.2101, a fine equal to twice the amount of gain from the commission of said crime, up to a maximum of $20K, or both such fine and imprisonment.
In the second case, he is charged with stealing and second degree burglary, both felonies, along with one count of third degree property damage, a class A misdemeanor.
Preliminary examination is next Thursday, Apr. 2 at 1:00p.m.
On Dec 11th, a woman called police to report that her brother’s home in Kokoland had been burglarized. The woman told police that her brother was off-island for medical treatment and she was looking after his house and property.
When cops arrived, they observed that the back door to the house was damaged and windows in one of the side rooms were broken.
The woman explained to police that on Dec. 9, they visited her brother’s house with her husband and children to clean the yard and everything was fine. Before they left the house, they locked all the doors, closed all the windows and also locked the front gate.
Two days later, on Dec. 11th around 7a.m, the woman sent her daughter and her husband back to check on the house before they went to work, and they noticed that the back door was broken and the screen door was locked from the inside.
Police questioned the woman’s daughter and her husband, who stated to police that when they arrived at the house, they observed several items were all over the floor of the house. They also discovered empty beer cans inside the living room.
Investigators spoke to an eyewitness who said that on Dec. 11th, at a little past 4a.m, he observed a red truck parked in front of the front gate of the house. He also heard noises coming from the house, but thought that maybe a family member was there to check on the property.
The eyewitness took a picture of the red truck with his phone that he later turned over to police for the investigation. Police looked it up in their database and discovered that the truck is registered under the name of Alema Taulaga, the defendant in this case.
According to the government, the defendant has a criminal record.
Three days after the alleged burglary, a witness come forward and offered information to investigators that assisted them with their investigation.
According to the witness, Taulaga and two men were involved in the burglary. He stated that Taulaga came to his house on the evening of Dec. 11 and asked him if he wanted to buy his electric tools that had been sitting at his house for over 2 years.
Taulaga told the witness that he needed $100 to buy a debit meter and food for his family. According to the witness, he did not accept the electric tools but he gave Taulaga $25 to buy food for his children.
Three months after the alleged incident, investigators apprehended Taulaga from his sister’s home in Iliili and transported him to the Tafuna Substation for questioning. During questioning, the defendant told police that he and his two male friends entered the home through the back door. He said he took some items and also carried a safe outside but was unsuccessful in breaking it. So they left it.
He said his friends took some of the items but didn’t know what they were, adding that he returned some of the items to the victim and he had been trying to figure out how to return the rest of the stolen items.
Taulaga also admitted to investigators that he was also involved in another burglary incident of a house in Fagaima. While he was inside the house, he went to the master bedroom and took several items including a jewelry box; clothes, pairs of shoes, electronics items and $132 cash that was on the table.
Before Taulaga was interviewed, a body search was carried out, whereby police found a glass pipe containing a white crystalline substance that tested positive for meth. When asked about the glass pipe, Taulaga said he bought it from a drug dealer in Vaitogi for $30.
The government is yet to file a third case against Taulaga for the glass pipe containing meth allegedly found on him.