Overstayer has a bad day, arrested during traffic stop — and it gets worse from there
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man with an active arrest warrant for an alleged attempted burglary case in Pago Pago almost two years ago is now in custody after he was arrested by police two weeks ago during a traffic stop in Fagatogo.
Minute Finauga was arrested and held for 48 hours after police allegedly discovered a quantity of illegal drugs and cash in his possession. To top it off, the driver is an overstayer from Samoa.
Finauga made his initial appearance in court last week where he was served with the copy of the arrest warrant containing all the charges and the information regarding the government’s cases against him.
Finauga, 29, is charged in 3 separate cases.
In the first case, he 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 possession of marijuana, all unclassified felonies which carry an imprisonment sentences between 5 to 10 years, a fine between $5,000 and $20,000, or both; along with one count of unlawful possession of ammunition, a class A misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment of up to 1 years, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. Finauga bail for this case is set at $20,000.
In the second case, Finauga is charged with one count of stealing and one count of 1st degree burglary, both class C felonies, punishable by imprisonment of up to 7 years, a $5,000 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. Bail in this case is set at $15,000
In the third case, Finauga is charged with one count of attempted stealing and one count of attempted burglary, both class D felonies, punishable by imprisonment of up to 5 years, a $5,000 fine or both. Bail for this case is set at $10,000.
Preliminary examination for all three cases is scheduled for Thursday this week, Aug. 27th.
THE FIRST CASE
According to the government, a red truck with no license plate light was stopped by a police officer on Aug 10th at around 10:12p.m in the Fagatogo area. Finauga was in the vehicle with a woman who was later identified as his girlfriend.
When asked to provide his driver’s license, Finauga showed it, however it had expired two years ago. When the police officer checked the light of the rear license plate, he discovered that the sticker on the plate did not match the number on the license plate.
Checking with the Central Police Station Dispatcher for the status of the vehicle's license plate and tags, it was noted that the license plates expired in May 2017. Finauga was cited and told the vehicle would be impounded at the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS).
Before Finauga, the vehicle, and the female passenger were transported to the TPS for further investigation, police conducted a body search of the female passenger and defendant as per norm. The female passenger was clear, however, when police searched the defendant, they discovered a medium sized baggie inside the right pocket of his pants. Inside the baggie were 3 smaller baggies containing white crystalline substance. One small baggie was also found inside the defendant’s rear pocket.
At the TPS, Finauga was present during the inventory search of his impounded vehicle. It was then that a small black bag was discovered under the driver’s seat that was shown to Finauga and he was asked who owned it. Finauga said he didn't know. No drugs were found inside the bag, only two empty small baggies similar to those used to sell meth.
The cop then asked Finauga about the white substance found inside his rear pocket. Finauga allegedly responded, “It looks like white powder (methamphetamine).”
As the search continued to the rear side of the vehicle, Finauga stated to police that the vehicle does not belong to him. He did not reveal who owned the vehicle.
As they spoke, the TPS received a phone call from a man in Aua saying that his red truck had been stolen from his son’s house while he was working. The caller further stated to police that the only person who could do that was a guy by the name of Finauga, a man who always hangs out with his son at his son’s house in Aua.
The female passenger agreed to speak with police regarding the incident.
According to the passenger’s statement, she caught a ride with Finauga in Utulei and she knew nothing about drugs found on Finauga’s possession because Finauga didn’t tell her anything about drugs on him nor did she see any sign that he (Finauga) has drugs on him.
When asked about the drugs, Finauga admitted to police that all the drugs found inside the vehicle and on him belonged to him. He did not wish to offer any more information to police.
It was during the interview that police discovered that Finauga had an active arrest warrant from an attempted burglary case two years ago.
THE STOLEN VEHICLE CASE
When police questioned Finauga about the stolen vehicle, the defendant admitted that he went to his friend’s home in Aua and took his vehicle. Finauga told police that his friend owed him $200. He further told police that he didn’t know the vehicle belonged to his friend’s father.
Police spoke to the son of the man who owns the vehicle who told officers that he left the vehicle’s key in the living room. Finauga and his girlfriend were sleeping inside the living room. The next morning when he woke up, he noticed that Finauga had taken the vehicle without permission and the vehicle belonged to his father.
THE ATTEMPTED BURGLARY CASE
When questioned by police regarding the attempted burglary, Finau admitted that he attempted to break inside his uncle’s home in Peseta around September of 2018.
The government alleged that on Sept. 21, 2018 around 3:10a.m, a woman called police for assistance after her husband’s nephew tried to break into their home on the night before.
Finauga was unable to gain entry inside the house, so he tried to steal his uncle’s tool box from the garage, however, he threw it down and ran away after a neighbor called out to him that he’s calling police.
The next morning the neighbor explained to the family what had happened and the woman called and notified police.
The woman further told police that this is not the first time her husband’s nephew allegedly did this to them. In August of 2018, Finauga broke into their house at night and stole her husband’s wallet with $310 cash inside, along with other items. The incident was discussed between the two families and nothing was reported to police.
The couple who owns the house told police they want to teach Finauga a lesson so that he will no longer do the same thing to them and their property.