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Man alleged to have broken into a store is caught with marijuana in his pocket


Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The government has charged a 28-year-old man for unlawful possession of illegal drugs and for trying to break into a store in Leone.

James Sefo made his initial appearance in District Court last week. He was represented by Assistant Public Defender Anna Wells while prosecuting the case is Assistant Attorney General Jason Mitchell.

Sefo, who has a long criminal history in the court system, is charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance, to wit; marijuana, and attempted burglary in the second degree - both class D felonies, along with disturbing the public peace (PPD), a class B misdemeanor.

Judge Fiti Sunia established Sefo’s bond at $5,000. If he posts bond, the court has ordered that he not set foot in the store he allegedly tried to break in to, remain alcohol and drug free, remain law abiding, and not leave or attempt to leave the territory without permission from the court. He also has to surrender his travel documents and not  make any contact with the government's witnesses.

According to the government’s case, a man informed police regarding a male who tried to break in to a store in Leone by throwing rocks at the back door of the store on the night of Nov. 3, 2018.

Police responded to the call but were unable to locate the suspect. One week later,  the same reporter contacted police again, telling them the man he saw trying to break into the store was within sight.

When police arrived this time, the witness pointed to the defendant who was playing rugby with other village youth. Police approached Sefo and asked if he could come with them to the station to discuss an important issue.

While speaking with police, Sefo immediately turned and ran to the back of a  church building. A foot chase ensued.

Sefo was apprehended and placed inside the police unit. He was later transported to the Tafuna Police Substation for questioning. Prior to that, a body search was carried out during which police discovered something inside Sefo's right pocket: four rolled cigarettes wrapped together inside a white blank paper.

Sefo told police they were marijuana cigarettes he got from a friend. Sefo did not reveal to police who his friend's name.

When asked about the alleged incident where he attempted to break in to a store in the village, Sefo said he doesn’t know anything about that case.