Sentencing delayed for man after latest drug test
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The sentencing of a man convicted of unlawful possession of methamphetamine (meth) is continued from last week to this week.
Pele Finau, who is out on bond appeared before Associate Justice Fiti Sunia last Thursday for sentencing, however, the court continued sentencing to tomorrow, Tuesday, May 11th after the court received new information from the Chief Probation Office (CPO) regarding Finau.
After CPO Malcolm Polu informed the bench regarding what happened during Finau’s drug test early in the morning before he appeared for sentencing, Sunia then called Polu to the stand.
Polu told the court under oath that he was informed by deputy probation officer that Finau allegedly tampered with the test kit by pouring water in it when he was asked to provide a urine sample for drug testing.
A few months ago, Sunia set up the standard procedure for all drug offenders appearing before the court for sentencing, stating that they must submit themselves for drug testing before they appear in court for sentencing.
Sunia informed Finau that the drug test requires his participation and messing around with the test is contempt of court. Finau was ordered to perform his drug test again after his hearing last Thursday.
Samoa News understands that Finau tested positive for meth and he was taken into custody awaiting his hearing set for tomorrow.
Finau, under a plea agreement with the government, pled guilty to the amended charge of unlawful possession of meth, a class D felony, punishable by imprisonment of up to 5 years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
His conviction stems from a traffic stop due to the pickup truck he was driving having numerous lights on it, including an Emergency light added to the front of the vehicle. Finau was the driver of the truck, and was found to be driving with an expired driver’s license.
While traffic officers were speaking to Finau, the DPS Vice and Narcotics/K9 Unit arrived at the scene. K9 Caino conducted a search around the vehicle for illegal drugs. According to the government, investigators requested Finau for his consent to search his vehicle after K9 Caino showed interest in the driver’s side of the vehicle.
Finau denied the police’s request and told them that he would not give them permission to search his vehicle.
However, due to the traffic violations — additional lights and driving with no valid license — police impounded Finau’s vehicle and he was transported to the Tafuna Substation (TPS) for further investigation, in handcuffs.
It was while police were removing the handcuffs from Finau at TPS when one of the officers observed that Finau was holding something in his hand; and when he opened his hand, police saw two cut-up straws containing white crystalline substance.
The white crystalline substance was tested and the results were positive for meth.
A body search followed, as well as an inventory search of his vehicle — and nothing further was found.
When asked about the two cut-up straws containing meth, Finau admitted to police that they belonged to him.