Man arrested for two bench warrants allegedly found with meth
Pago Pago, AMERICA SAMOA — A 42-year-old man with two bench warrants issued by the District Court for failure to appear for two separate cases was arrested for alleged possession of methamphetamine last Wednesday when the vehicle he was driving was pulled over by detectives from the DPS Vice and Narcotics Unit in front of a store in Iliili two weeks ago.
Willie Faamanu is charged with one count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine; and one count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance, marijuana; both felonies, punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than five or more than ten years, and a fine of not less than $5,000 or more than $20,000, or both.
Faamanu made his initial appearance before District Court Judge Elvis P. Patea last week. He is being represented by Assistant Public Defender Bob Stuart while prosecuting the case is Assistant Attorney General, Laura Garvey.
During court proceedings, Faamanu’s attorney requested a bail reduction to $2,000 from the initial amount of $10,000 that was set by the Court.
Stuart argued that although his client is being charged with two criminal counts, based on the court affidavit, the two charges stem from one incident when his vehicle was pulled over by detectives.
He further argued that his client is not a flight risk, that he has no intention of leaving the territory and his family. The government opposed the defense motion for a bail reduction. Garvey argued that $10,000 is a reasonable bail amount, based on the quantity of drugs that police allegedly found in the defendant’s possession.
After reviewing both arguments, Patea ordered that Faamanu’s bail be reduced to $5,000, a cash bond, subject to the usual conditions.
According to the government's case, it was 6:10 p.m on Feb. 7, 2020 that detectives from the Vice & Narcotics Unit saw the defendant’s vehicle pulling out of the parking lot of a store in Iliili, heading westbound. They recognized the driver as Faamanu, who had two outstanding bench warrants from the District Court for failing to appear on two separate cases last year. They stopped the vehicle and notified him of the bench warrants.
Before the defendant was placed inside the police unit, he was patted down for weapons. Prior to this, Faamanu removed items from his pants pocket and placed it on the police vehicle. During the pat down, another police officer observed a pouch which held two cut up straws that contained a crystalline substance believed to be methamphetamine, and a small baggie containing green leafy believed to be marijuana.
Other items that were pulled out from the defendant’s pocket included a pack of cigarettes, his driver’s license, a cell phone, and $125.
The substances tested positive for methamphetamine and marijuana.
His vehicle was searched for contraband at the scene, and police discovered paraphernalia including cut up straws.
Faamanu and a woman who was inside the vehicle when it was pulled over, were transported to the Tafuna Sub-station.
When questioned by police, the defendant said he understood his rights and he refused to make a statement.
While preparing a property report on the evidence found on the defendant, the investigating officer found a cut up straw about an inch long, with both sides sealed, containing a crystalline substance inside the plastic cover of the cigarettes. The substance tested positive for methamphetamine.
When confronted by police about the cut up straw, Faamanu said, "I forgot I still had that in my cigarettes.”
The passenger of the vehicle Faamanu was driving was also interviewed by police and she agreed to provide a written statement.
According to the witness, she and Faamanu bought and smoked drugs twice over a period of two days. The first day was the previous night, Feb. 6, 2020, and the second was the following day, Feb. 7, at about 3:00 p.m, when her vehicle broke down in Leone, and she contacted Faamanu for help.
She said Faamanu came and towed her vehicle to Fogagogo and on their way back, she and Faamanu went to the area called, ‘Le Filifili’ and waited on the same dirt road where they had made the previous drug transaction the night before.
Two males again walked up to their vehicle and sold them meth and marijuana.
The witness said after they made their buy, she and Faamanu went to Vailoa to meet one of their old friends who just came back from Samoa, they were on the road again.
It was when they drove passed the Asian store in iliili when their vehicle was pulled over by police.
Faamanu remains in custody, unable to post bond. His preliminary examination is set for Thursday, Feb. 27 in the District Court.