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Man in court for meth possession after traffic stop — A vehicle, two men, two stories

American Samoa High Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man charged with one count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine), entered a 'not guilty' plea during his arraignment this past Monday in High Court.

A pretrial conference for Faasasao Mauga is scheduled for April 5.

According to the government's case, the charge against Mauga stems from an incident that occurred on Dec. 30, 2018 in Tafuna.

The criminal complaint notes that Mauga was the passenger of a vehicle that was pulled over because the rear lights were not on. Because there was a faint smell of alcohol emitting from the driver when cops approached him, a field sobriety test was conducted. The driver passed.

While the driver was trying to fix the rear lights, police noticed that Mauga was trying to "crack" something in his left hand. According to police, the object appeared "glassy", something "commonly used to smoke meth."

The criminal complaint further states that when police asked Mauga to step out of the vehicle, he threw the glassy object in a cup holder between the driver and passenger seats.

When questioned by police, Mauga allegedly told them that the pipe with meth was given to him by the driver, who told him to smoke it so "he can gain some energy."

Mauga said he asked the driver to drop him off at a taxi stand in Petesa and they were en route there when they got pulled over by police. He allegedly told police that he got "scared" when he saw the cop standing outside the car door and that's why he threw the pipe in the cup holder.

The driver however, told police a different story. According to him, Mauga works for him, as a carpenter. He said that because it was the end of the year, he and his wife decided to treat their workers to a meal and that's why he and Mauga were together on the day of the incident.

He denied having any knowledge of the pipe containing meth, but allegedly told police that he had heard rumors that Mauga smokes ice. He said he was "shocked" when cops pulled Mauga out of the car because he had a pipe with meth.

Following interviews at the Tafuna Substation, the driver was released but Mauga was transported to the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) where he remains, unable to post the $2,000 bail set by the court.