Man involved in assault case, back in court — this time on drug charges
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man involved in the case where 3 males were charged and convicted of assaulting another man during a drinking session a few years ago was arrested last week on drug charges.
Alapati Faamanatu made his initial appearance in District Court last week. He later waived his right to a preliminary hearing and the case has been bound over to High Court.
Faamanatu is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a felony punishable by imprisonment of 5-10 years, a fine of $5,000-$20,000 or both.
Bail is set at $5,000
On Feb. 2, 2020 two officers conducted speeding enforcement across from an Asian store in Malaeimi. At about 10a.m., they stopped a speeding vehicle that was heading west. Two males were inside. The driver identified himself to police as Alapati Faamanatu, and did not have a valid driver’s license on him or any other form of identification. It was later confirmed that his license had expired Sept. 20, 2016.
Faamanatu was then told that his vehicle would be impounded at the Tafuna Substation and he was taken in for further questioning. He was handcuffed and rode in the passenger seat of his vehicle while a cop took the wheel.
Before heading to the police station, Faamanatu handed a black fanny pack to one officer, to give to his passenger (who identified himself to police as Sione Filemoni). The cop who handed the fanny pack over to Filemoni asked Filemoni if the fanny pack belonged to him. Filemoni said no, it belongs to Faamanatu.
Filemoni was then placed in the police unit and the cop held on to the fanny pack until their arrival at the police station. Once there, the cop returned the fanny pack to Faamanatu who still claimed that it belonged to Filemoni. That’s when a senior officer asked him if they could search the fanny pack for any form of identification. Faamanatu said okay.
The search netted 4 small stamp-sized baggies containing a white crystalline substance that tested positive as meth.
When questioned by police, Filemoni said he had known Faamanatu for only 4 weeks and they met during one of his village’s bingo games. He said Faamanatu would ask him for help with yard work and on that particular day, he picked him up to help mow his lawn in Tafuna.
According to Filemoni, Faamanatu had the fanny pack in his car when he got in the car; and after mowing the lawn in Tafuna, he asked for his help again. This time, with planting taro in Vailoa.
Filemoni said he agreed and when they were stopped by police, he saw Faamanatu stuff the fanny pack under his seat and was surprised when the police officer walked up to him saying Faamanatu said the fanny pack was his.
Faamanatu’s vehicle was searched in his presence. Police found a pipe containing white crystalline substance on the floor of the passenger side, wrapped in a white T-shirt. There was also a green leafy substance scattered all over the sides of the rug on the passenger side. Two closed off straws were also discovered underneath a soda can in the passenger’s side cup holder.
During arraignment in High Court last Thursday morning, Faamanatu pled ‘not guilty’ to the charge against him.
Pretrial conference is May 14, 2020.