One man crime wave charged again after recent release from TCF
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man who is on probation for stealing and burglary is now back in court after another stealing allegation. Police arrested Pulusi Akeli two weeks after he was released from the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) after serving a 28-month detention.
Akeli made his initial appearance in District Court last week. During his initial appearance, he asked the court for a preliminary examination (PX).
Akeli is charged with one count of stealing, a felony, punishable by imprisonment of up to 7 years, a $5,000 fine or pursuant to A.S.C.A , 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, and one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a felony, punishable by imprisonment terms from 5-10 years, a $20,000 or both.
Bail is set at $15,000.
If he posts bond, Akeli is ordered to remain law abiding, including not making any direct or indirect contact with the government’s witnesses, including the victim, the owner of an Asian store in Nu’uuli.
On Oct. 14th, 2020, the owner of an Asian store in Nu’uuli walked into the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS) to report an alleged crime committed by an unknown individual who allegedly stole two phones, Bluetooth speakers and a pair of Nike shoes from her store in Nu’uuli.
The owner of the store told investigators that the male individual walked inside her store in Nu’uuli on the morning of Oct. 12th and made his way to the side where the display table is located. She said he walked around a few moments while trying to see if anybody was looking at him.
He then reached out to the two phones, both Samsung S20s located on the display table and removed them, placed them inside his backpack, along with the speakers and a pair of shoes and quickly walked outside and disappeared.
According to the storeowner’s statement to investigators, the perpetrator’s action on that day of the alleged incident was recorded on video camera.
Investigators were able to get a copy of the video footage from the store and viewed it, which confirmed the statement given by the store owner who reported the matter to police. The person in the video footage was later identified by one of the police detectives as Pulusi Akeli, the defendant in this matter.
Two weeks ago, Akel was apprehended based on an arrest warrant, at his home, and transported to the TPS for questioning where he was Mirandized. Akeli said he understood his rights and he wanted to tell his side of the story.
Before Akeli was transported to the TPS for questioning, he was patted down and during the body search, police discovered a glass pipe containing white crystalline substance in Akeli’s right pocket, along with a small stamp-sized baggie also containing white crystalline substance.
The white crystalline substance tested positive for methamphetamine.
Akeli told investigators that he had just been released from TCF in the beginning of this year after serving 28 months at the TCF for stealing, burglary and escape from confinement. He was staying with his elderly mother at their house and his daily job was to provide food for his mother while his younger brother works at the cannery.
Three months after his release, he went to the Asian store to meet an old friend, however, everything went wrong when he entered the store and allegedly took two phones, Bluetooth speaker and a pair of shoes.
According to Akeli, he gave one phone to a couple to use and the couple gave him $80 for the phone. He gave the other phone to his long time friend in exchange for methamphetamine. He kept the Bluetooth speakers and the pair of shoes.
Investigators were able to retrieve the phone from the couple and give it back to the owner of the Asian store, while the other phone, the Bluetooth speakers and the pair of shoes were never found.
During the PX the government called their only witness to the stand, who also was the lead investigator in this case.
Working as a police officer for over 5 years, the witness told the court that she received her training to become a police officer during the 26th Police Academy and on the job training.
The government witness told the court that it was revealed during her investigation that Akeli went inside the Asian store in Nu’uuli with the intention of stealing items in order to buy drugs.
in cross examination, the defense attorney asked the government witness the reason why the case against his client was reported to police two days after the alleged incident. The witness told the court that the owner of the store only knew about the incident two days after when she viewed the video footage from the security camera.
The defense attorney asked the witness again how was she so sure that his client was the person of interest in this case? The government witness told the court that when the team of investigators viewed the video footage from the Asian store, it was at that time when a police detective who knew the suspect from his previous cases easily identified him from the video footage.
After hearing evidence of the case, the court found probable cause to bind Akeli’s case to the High Court for arraignment.
Akeli entered a not guilty plea when he appeared in High Court last week for his arraignment. His next hearing is set for next month.
According to court files, in the cases for which he is on probation, Akeli was initially charged in three separate cases.
One case charged him with stealing. In another case, Akeli was slapped with several charges including 4 counts of stealing; 3 counts of 1st degree burglary; one count of 2nd degree burglary; one count of escape from confinement, and the misdemeanor charge of alluding police officers.
In a third case, Akeli was charged with 1 count of escape from confinement.
Under a plea agreement with the government, Akeli agreed to plead guilty to stealing in the first case; and two counts of stealing and one count of first degree burglary in the second case.
In return, the remaining charges were dismissed.
With his guilty pleas, Akeli admits that on Sept. 7, 2017 while he was in a store in Nu’uuli, he stole a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 tablet.
He also admits that on Oct. 30, 2017 he stole several electronic items including an Apple iPad, a computer scanner, and a Samsung tablet from another store in Nu’uuli.
Akeli further confirms that on Nov. 7, 2017, he entered a home in Nu’uuli in the middle of the night without permission and stole several items including two television sets, a laptop, two speakers, a bag, 4 pairs of shoes, a big fine mat, and an Apple iPad, worth more than $5,000.
Akeli was 23 years old when he appeared before the court for sentencing in July 2018. According to Probation, Akeli dropped out of school when he was 11 years old.
In the first case where Akeli was convicted of stealing, he was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 7 years.
In the second case where the defendant was convicted to two counts of stealing and 1 counts of burglary in the first degree, the court sentenced him to a term of imprisonment of 7 years for each counts.
The defendant’s sentences were to run concurrently. Execution of sentences was suspended, and Akeli was placed on probation for 7 years under certain conditions including serving a period of detention of 28 months at TCF. He was recently released.