Man in court on traffic charges hit with two felony charges as well
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 39-year-old man who was pulled over for a traffic violation is being criminally charged, after police allegedly found illegal drugs in his possession.
Albert Tanielu appeared in District Court last week for a traffic citation, and he was ordered to return to court on Monday of this week for a status hearing. When he showed up in court, he was served with an arrest warrant, attached to an affidavit supporting two felony charges against him.
Tanielu is charged with unlawful possession of methamphetamine; and unlawful possession of marijuana, both class D felonies, punishable by a jail term of 5-10 years and a fine of $5,000-$20,000.
If he is able to post a $5,000 bond, Tanielu is ordered to comply with standard conditions, including not making any direct or indirect contact with the government’s witnesses, and not leaving the territory.
The government claims that around 7 p.m., on Dec. 2nd, police received information regarding a person named “DAN” who had just threatened a young couple in front of the Fagatogo Market by telling them that he would kill both of them if they continued to spread rumors about him (Tanielu) selling illegal drugs from his home.
“DAN” is another name for Albert Tanielu.
According to the caller, Tanielu was sitting in a vehicle, in the passenger seat while a female was the driver of the vehicle. The caller said that Tanielu looked drunk and he was holding a beer can in his right hand.
After the vehicle was spotted and pulled over by police in Nu’uuli, Tanielu was immediately placed under arrest and transported to TPS for questioning. Police saw empty beers cans on the floor under the passenger’s seat. The driver was also instructed by police to come with them to the TPS for more discussion.
Before Tanielu was transported to the police station, police conducted a body search per norm. At that time, police discovered two small stamp-size baggies containing white crystalline substance in his left pocket and in his right pocket were two hand rolled marijuana cigarettes.
Tanielu admitted that the illegal drugs found in his possession belonged to him. He told police that he bought them from a man who was selling illegal drugs at the Fagatogo market two days prior.
Regarding the allegation that he made threatening remarks to a couple in front of the Fagatogo Market, Tanielu admitted it and told police that he was disappointed when that couple spread rumors in their village saying that he was selling drugs from his home.
Vui told police that he doesn’t sell drugs.
In 2013, Tanielu was convicted of unlawful possession of marijuana, and subsequently sentenced to 5 years probation under the condition that he serves 20 months at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF). His probation term ended two years ago.