Trial date set for man accused of using a minor to sell weed in Malaeimi
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man accused of giving marijuana to a minor to sell for him in the beginning of this year has asked the High Court to set his case for jury trial — and trial is now set for March 2020.
Opetaia Asuni appeared in court last week for his pretrial conference. Assistant Public Defender Rob McNeill is representing him, while prosecuting is Assistant Attorney General Doug Lowe.
McNeill told the court that they have received all the discovery from the government — along with an offer for a plea agreement — however, Asuni wishes to maintain his innocence, hence his request for a jury trial.
For now, Asuni remains in custody, unable to post a $10,000 surety bond.
Asuni was arrested after a 17-year-old male who was caught smoking marijuana behind an Asian store in Malaeimi told investigators that it was Asuni who gave him marijuana to sell in the village.
Asuni is charged with one count of unlawful possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute, a felony punishable by imprisonment of 5-10 years, and a fine of $5,000-$20,000; and one count of endangering the welfare of a child, a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000 or both.
Detectives of the DPS Vice & Narcotics Unit received a call from a woman who was waiting for a bus, claiming that a minor — smoking marijuana behind the store — was caught by a man. Officers responded and were able to speak with both the caller and the minor.
When questioned by detectives, the minor said the marijuana he was smoking came from a guy named “Fritz” who was later identified as Opetaia Asuni, the defendant.
According to the minor, Asuni always gives him free marijuana in exchange for selling his product for $5 a joint to the public. He added that he also sells marijuana joints for another man by the name of “Deuce”.
Asuni allegedly admitted to police that he receives money from the minor for selling his marijuana joints to the public, and he also gave the minor 3 marijuana joints to smoke as a reward.