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Man pleads not guilty to stealing from his elderly uncle’s house and selling items for cash and ice

American Samoa District Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man from Malaeimi who was arrested and charged for burglarizing his uncle’s home told police that he traded most of the stolen electronic items and “other stuff” at his friend’s home in Vaitogi for drugs.

William Tagaloa, 39, did not reveal his friend’s name.

Tagaloa made his initial appearance in District Court last week. He is charged with one count of second degree burglary and two counts of stealing, both class C felonies, each punishable by imprisonment of up to 7 years, a $5,000 fine or pursuant to A.S.C.A 46.2101, a fine equal to twice the amount of gain from the commission of said crime, up to a maximum of $20,000, or both such fine and imprisonment for each count.

Bail is set at $25,000.

Tagaloa waived his right to a preliminary hearing and his case is bound over to High Court where he appeared yesterday morning for arraignment, entering a ‘not guilty’ plea to the charges. Pretrial conference is Jan. 15th, 2020


Police received a complaint from an elderly man in Malaeimi regarding his home being burglarized by unknown people while he and his wife were in Hawaii in September of this year.

The victim told police that he and his wife returned on Sept. 15th after three weeks away to find that the back door of their home had been broken and several personal items were missing.

The victim showed the inside of him home to police, who observed disarray, with scattered belongings and open doors.

The reported missing items include: laptop; 2 Mac computers; miscellaneous electric tools; 2 tablets; 2 sets of gold earrings; gold ring; 2 sewing machines; and 2 fine mats.

While officers were at the victim’s home on the night of Sept. 28th, a taxi driver also from Malaeimi came forward with information that would help investigators.

According to the taxi driver, while he was at the taxi stand in Tafuna during the early morning hours of Sept. 19th, 2019, Tagaloa approached him and asked for a ride to Kokoland, to pick up a male friend.

The witness told police he knew Tagaloa because they used to work as taxi drivers for the Airport Taxi stand, but Tagaloa was let go after he stole money from another cab driver’s vehicle.

The witness told police that when he dropped Tagaloa off at his friend’s home in Kokoland, he gave him $20, a pair of gold earrings, and said, “This is my special gift for your wife.”

Furthermore, Tagaloa offered to sell him 2 laptops for $150 each. The taxi driver told police that he declined the offers and left the area. Three weeks later, the victim and his wife went to police and told them they believe another male from their neighborhood was involved in burglarizing their home.

According to the victim, the said male sold 2 electric chainsaws to the son of their family’s matai.

Tagaloa was picked up from his friend’s home in Kokoland and taken in for questioning. During the interview, he verbally stated that he had broken into his uncle’s home and taken a number of items in the beginning of September.

He went on to say that he had traded most of the electronics to his friend in Vaitogi for meth; and the other items were given to his friend to sell to other people for cash or drugs. In his written statement, Tagaloa noted down all the items he stole, along with the identities of the people he sold them to.

One of the people who bought the 2 tablets was a female who, when questioned by police, said she bought the 2 tablets for $100. She said she didn’t know the items were stolen, as Tagaloa told her the tablets belonged to his children.

Police also questioned a bus driver who lives next to Tagaloa in Malaeimi. The man told police Tagaoa sold him several items. He said Tagaloa came to him and asked for money but he said no. Later on, Tagaloa sold him 2 electric drills, a medium size grinder and a skillsaw for $150. Then early last month, Tagaloa offered to sell him a laptop for $100. The man said he counter offered for $50 and Tagaloa agreed.

Another man who spoke to police said Tagaloa stopped him in Nuuuli and offered to sell him a laptop and charger for $150 and a skillsaw for $60. He said Tagaloa told him he really needed money to pay for his children’s school fees and buy food for the family.

Police were able to interview the male who sold some of the stolen items for Tagaloa.

According to him, some of the items were sold for cash while others were sold for meth, which he gave to Tagaloa.

The government is woking on filing separate charges against Tagaloa, for unlawful possession of methamphetamine. The government alleges that illegal drugs were discovered on Tagaloa when he was served a copy of the arrest warrant last week for the burglary case.