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Togiola takes over case of DPS officer accused in TCF drug case

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — One of the three former DPS officers facing charges in an alleged drug operation at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) appeared in District Court yesterday morning for a preliminary examination.

The matter has been continued to Jan. 23

Faavae Papatu's defense attorney, Togiola Tulafono, took over the case last week, during which time he made a motion to release Papatu on his own recognizance. During yesterday's court proceedings, Judge Fiti Sunia noted that the court is "not inclined" to release Papatu on his own recognizance, but bail will be reduced from $20,000 to $5,000

Sunia said the court has to assess the situation from a risk/safety standpoint.

Prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General Laura Garvey argued that bond remain at $20,000, noting that Papatu is a flight risk.

According to Garvey, the defendant is alleged to have been in possession of two marijuana cigarettes, and the criminal complaint alleges that he was involved in the delivery of ice and marijuana to the TCF.

Papatu, along with former DPS officers Jimmy Stanley and Leasi Neulei, and brothers Vincent and Spencer Toeava are facing charges for the alleged distribution of meth and weed at the Tafuna prison.

According to the criminal complaint, Officer Papatu informed investigators that when he was first assigned to the TCF, he heard certain inmates talking about Vincent Toeava supplying drugs to other inmates. He said he took it upon himself to investigate and "he was able to get 2 marijuana cigarettes from Toeava (Vincent), which he later threw away."

When asked if any of his superiors or co-workers were aware of his investigation, he said no.