Man on probation arrested for another drug violation
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A driver of a vehicle pulled over by several police officers last month for violating traffic laws is now arrested and charged for violating local drug laws after police allegedly discovered drugs in his possession and in his vehicle.
Ah Chong Lefatia, who is on probation for a drug conviction last year, made his initial appearance in District Court last month.
He is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine; one count of unlawful possession of marijuana, both unclassified felonies, punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than five nor more than ten years and a fine of not less than $5,000 nor more than $20,000, or both; along with one count of resisting arrest, a class D felony, punishable by imprisonment for up to 5 years, a fine of $5,000, or both.
Bail is set $10,000.
Lefatia is scheduled to appear in High Court this morning for his arraignment, after he waived his right to a preliminary examination (PX) last week.
On Jan. 06, 2021, four police officers who were patrolling on the Puapua public highway observed a blue Toyota Rav-4 vehicle turning right onto a family property without any signal. Officers immediately initiated a traffic stop.
Officers observed the driver’s door of the vehicle open and observed an unknown male individual (driver) exiting from the driver’s side and walking towards the passenger side of his vehicle. Officers approached the unknown male and observed the driver holding in his hand a cross shaped iron lug wrench.
One of the officers recognized the vehicle description and its license plate from a prior incident during the Christmas and New Year traffic enforcement.
A police officer instructed the driver to put down the iron lug wrench but the driver refused to corporate. He swung the lug wrench and pointed it at officers. One officer snatched the lug wrench from the driver then informed the driver of the reason the vehicle had been stopped.
Officers requested the driver for his driver’s license. The driver refused to comply, refusing to provide a valid driver’s license or any form of identification document but only verbally stating that his name is Junior.
Officers then informed the driver that his vehicle would be impounded and he was being detained at the Tafuna Sub-Station for further investigation. That’s when the driver pushed and shoved one of the police officers and ran away from heading west where he was subdued by officers about 10 yards away from the vehicle stop.
The driver continued to resist, yelling profanities and fighting off officers. He was later apprehended and transported to the TPS.
During the interview, the driver was identified as Ah Chong Lefatia, the defendant in this matter. Lefatia was informed of an outstanding bench warrant issued by the court for his arrest. A police sergeant then served Lefatia with the bench warrant issued by the High Court.
Lefatia was patted down and officers discovered a glass pipe containing white crystalline substance inside his underwear’s waistband.
Officers also discovered a medium sized baggie containing a white substance in Lefatia’s front pocket. A police sergeant also instructed two other police officers to conduct an inventory of Lefatia’s impounded vehicle.
During the inventory of the vehicle in Lefatia’s presence, officers discovered a medium size baggie that contained green leafy substances in the armrest between the driver and the front passenger seats. Information regarding Lefatia’s case was later transferred to the DPS Vice and Narcotics Unit for further investigation.
The white crystalline substance discovered in Lefatia’s possession tested positive for methamphetamine. The green leafy substances were also tested with the result testing positive for Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), an active compound in the controlled substance marijuana.
Later on that day, Lefatia was Mirandized where he stating that he understood and wished not to sign the first portion of the form and would sign on the second portion (waiver) to a verbal statement regarding the incident.
According to Lefatia, he does not recall or know anything.
In March of last year, Lefatia was sentenced to five years imprisonment and a fine of $2,000 after he was convicted of unlawful possession of methamphetamine. He admits that on August of 2019 he had in his possession a stamp-sized baggie containing methamphetamine when police searched him. He was placed on probation for 5 years and ordered to serve a period of detention of 20 months in jail.
While waiting in jail for sentencing on his original conviction, as Lefatia was unable to post his bond, he was arrested again, one month later, along with three other inmates for the alleged beating of another inmate at the TCF. Lefatia, along with the three other co-defendants were each charged with one count of public peace disturbance (PPD).
The government claims that it was in the morning of Oct. 5th, 2019 when several police units were called to respond to the TCF to assist Correction Officers with a fight that was in progress. The fight was between Lefatia and his three co-defendants, Titio Titio Jr; his brother Asofa Titio and Reggie Vaavale, against another inmate — Thomas Siaumau.
Lefatia was convicted by the District Court for PPD and was sentenced to 12 months probation.