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Man charged following a disagreement over an access road in Fagaima

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Additional charges may be filed, according to the prosecutor

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Bail is set at $500 for Apelu Fonotia, who was taken into custody last week following an incident in Fagaima where he is alleged to have gone to his neighbor’s home with a knife, punched a man in the face, and challenged others to a fight.

Fonotia made his initial appearance in court last week. He is charged with one count of third degree assault and one count of public peace disturbance (PPD) - both misdemeanors.

Prosecutor Laura Garvey says the government may file additional charges, as the police investigation continues on allegations of possible trespassing and making verbal threats.

If Fonotia is able to post bail, he is ordered not to bother his neighbor or attempt to set foot on his property. He is also not to make any direct or indirect contact with him. Fonotia’s next court date is Jan. 30, 2020.

According to court information, the alleged incident stemmed from a disagreement between Fonotia and his neighbor over the access road used by both families. Fonotia contends that the neighbor should not be using the access road because he and his children have spent a lot of time cleaning it.

But the neighbor claims the access road is on their family property and therefore, Fonotia and his family should not be using it at all. The neighbor contacted police after Fonotia allegedly came to his house and used a knife in a threatening manner, in addition to making verbal threats to an elderly woman in his family.

A female witness told police that when Fonotia returned from the neighbor’s home, her husband walked over to calm him down. But Fonotia turned around and punched the man in the face, causing him to fall.

It’s alleged that Fontoia’s actions came after a drinking session with friends at his home.  Fonotia admitted to police that he had a knife and was making threatening statements to people in the neighborhood. He said he was just trying to prove a point to his neighbor, but he had no intention of hurting anyone. He also admitted to punching a man on the face on his way back to his house, saying he thought the man was coming to assault him.