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Not guilty plea expected in arraignment tomorrow for man accused of dealing drugs

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — District Court has found probable cause to bind over to the High Court, the government’s case against Anthony Tali, who is expected to enter a ‘not guilty’ plea tomorrow morning during arraignment.

Tali, who is still in custody, unable to post a $20,000 surety bond, is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine; one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute; one count of unlawful possess of marijuana; and one count of unlawful possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute, all felonies.

During his preliminary examination last week, the government called one witness, DPS officer, PSO Toia Latu, whose testimony was apparently sufficient to move the case forward.

According to Latu’s testimony, illegal drugs were found inside a vehicle during a traffic stop in Nuuuli three weeks ago.

Latu stated that a vehicle was pulled over by traffic police officers on the night of Dec. 11, 2020 in Nu’uuli for speeding. Cops approached the vehicle and discovered three males inside the vehicle.

The driver of the vehicle was identified as Anthony Tali the suspect in this case, and two male juveniles. One juvenile was sitting in the passenger’s seat while the other was sitting in the back seat of the vehicle. T driver of the vehicle and juveniles were asked to step outside of the vehicle.

While cops were attempting to conduct a body search on the suspect, he acted disorderly and refused to comply with instructions. He was also told to perform the Standardized Field Sobriety test but the suspect also refused to comply.

The suspect was then patted down and cops discovered a sandwich-sized baggie full of green leaves.

During an inventory of the vehicle, in the suspect’s presence, allegedly more illegal drugs were found — in a white container found under the driver’s seat, and in the side door pocket on the driver’s side.

Cops also discovered a bag belonging to one of the juveniles in the back seat of the vehicle. Inside the bag was a photo ID of the juvenile and a glass pipe containing a huge amount of white crystalline substance.

Both juveniles were patted down and nothing was found in their possession.

According to Latu’s statement, both the suspect and one of the juveniles were taken into custody for questioning while the other juvenile who was sitting in the passenger’s seat was released at the scene.

During questioning, Tali refused to offer any statement to police regarding the alleged incident. He was then booked and transferred to the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF).

The male juvenile was interviewed by investigators in the presence of his mother. He refused to make a statement to investigators. The mother told investigators that she needed to speak to a lawyer.

The juvenile was later released into the custody of his mother.

Both the white crystalline substance and the green leafy substance allegedly discovered in the suspect’s possession and inside the vehicle tested positive for methamphetamine and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), an active compound in the controlled substance marijuana, respectively.

Based on training and experience, Latu told the court that the illegal drugs allegedly found in the suspect’s possession and vehicle were not for personal use, but for sale.

During cross-examination, the defense attorney asked Latu how he can determine that the methamphetamine and marijuana allegedly found on his client were for sale?

The witness stated that two baggies of methamphetamine and two marijuana joints are considered for personal use; anything more than that would be considered for distribution.

In closing, the defense attorney argued that the drugs allegedly found on his client and in his vehicle were not for distribution, but for personal use. The court disagreed.

The court stated that based on the testimony of the lone witness, the court is satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to bind the case over to the High Court for further proceedings.