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Court adjudicates a slew of PPDs coupled with other charges

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A young man from Nuuuli with a long criminal history entered into a plea bargain with the government during court proceedings last week.

Tavita Lago, who is on probation, was initially charged with 4 misdemeanors including two counts of third degree assault, resisting arrest, and public peace disturbance (PPD).

However, under a plea agreement with the government, Lago pled guilty to PPD and the remaining charges were dismissed.

With his guilty plea, Lago admits that on Ap. 29, 2021 in Nuuuli, he disturbed the public peace by being involved in a fight, during which he became loud and created fear in others.

The court sentenced Lago to 6 months probation.

According to court records, Lago has been detained since his arrest and has already served 152 days in prison.

The court then ordered that Lago be released from the TCF but he will remain there, pending a hearing to revoke his probation in the High Court next week.

During court proceedings, Lago apologized for what he did, saying he is remorseful and that he has learned his lesson. He also apologized to his mother and family, especially those who were affected by his actions.

The government's case states that on the day of the incident, police responded to a call from someone in the Nuuuli area, requesting police assistance to a disturbance.

When the cops arrived, an unknown male who was later identified as Lago, yelled profanities at the police and asked them to leave the area.

In 2017, the High Court placed Lago on probation for five years, after he was convicted of felony driving and resisting arrest. As a condition of his probation, he was ordered to serve 20 months at the TCF and remain a law-abiding citizen.


A man who dropped his children off at Aua Elementary School last week ended up in District Court, after he was arrested for allegedly disturbing the peace by engaging in a fight with another individual.

Samu Selesele made his initial appearance in District Court where he entered a 'not guilty' plea to one count of public peace disturbance (PPD).

After reviewing the police report, the court ordered Selesele to be released on his own recognizance, under certain conditions that include no contact with the alleged victim.

According to the government, the defendant and the victim got into a disagreement that had to do with parking in the school compound.

The verbal argument ended when Selesele allegedly punched the victim in the face, and police were contacted for assistance. Witnesses told police that the defendant also made threatening remarks to the victim and other bystanders that he will “finish” the victim or anybody if they report the matter to police.

Selesele was arrested by police at the Fagatogo market and was transported to the Fagatogo Police Central for questioning.

Selesele allegedly told police during questioning that he assaulted the victim because he was angry.

His next court appearance is set for next month.


After violating conditions of probation from a previous case, Jake Tuli was ordered last week to serve 30 days without release at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF).

At sentencing last week, the court explained that Tuli was sentenced to 16 months probation, after being convicted in Feb 2020 for public peace disturbance.

However, about 6 months after that, the defendant was again charged with misdemeanor public peace disturbance and was sentenced to 18 months probation. Then last month, the Probation Office filed a motion to void the defendant’s probation for failure to comply with all conditions of his probation.

In its motion, the Probation Office informed the court that Tuli tested positive for marijuana. Additionally, Tuli failed to visit the Probation Office once a month and did not attend and complete anger management as well as alcohol counseling classes.

The court agreed with the Probation Office and Tuli was sentenced to 30 days in jail without release.

Upon release from detention, Tuli is ordered to comply with all conditions of his 18-month probation, especially the condition to stay clean and sober.


A man accused of cursing and causing a disturbance in his neighborhood on Oct. 16th has been charged with three misdemeanor counts of public peace disturbance, resisting arrest, and escaping from confinement.

According to court information, police received several calls from neighbors regarding Mavae Fonoti, who was swearing at them and causing trouble. When police went to look for him in Ili’ili, the defendant allegedly took off.

Fonoti was later found at his home.

Police escorted him outside, but he broke free and ran down the road. The cops were able to apprehend him and take him to the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS), where Fonoti complained of pain in the abdominal area and breathing problems. He requested medical assistance and the EMS showed up.

The defendant then requested further medical treatment at LBJ Hospital and EMS transported him there, according to court documents, which also states that police called ahead to notify LBJ security.

Upon arrival at the hospital, Fonoti fled before he could be treated by medical professionals, the government alleges. The defendant was later apprehended.

After his initial appearance in District Court last week, the defendant was released on his own recognizance under special conditions that include no contact with the government’s witnesses.

Fonoti is scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 19 at 8:30am for a pretrial conference.


A 23-year-old male who is being accused of walking around his neighborhood peeking into family homes has been arrested and charged with public peace disturbance (PPD) and trespass.

Thomas Filitoga made his initial appearance in District Court last week, where he was ordered to pay a $300 bond before he can be released from prison.

Once he pays up, he is ordered to stay away from the homes of the families that were allegedly affected by his actions.

According to the government, it was around 1:17 a.m. on Oct. 10th that a couple from Taputimu called the Leone Police Substation (LPS) regarding a young man walking around their neighborhood peeking into homes.

Officers who responded to the call noticed a young man walking on the road near the area where the call came from. He was later identified as Thomas Filitoga, the defendant in this matter.

While police officers were talking to Filitoga, a woman approached them aggressively and informed them that this was the guy who peeked into their home. The woman further stated to police that while her daughter was lying inside her room, she was shocked when she saw a male individual was standing outside the window of her room looking inside.

Filitoga was immediately placed in the police unit for safety reasons while police interviewed another man who said it was his wife who called police for assistance, because the defendant followed his sister-in-law to their house.

The witness said Filitoga didn't leave but instead, was peeking into their house until he chased him away.

When asked by police how he knew the witness's sister-in-law, Filitoga said they met at a party and the lady had asked him to come by her house to hang out.

When police questioned the woman, she confirmed that she saw the defendant at a party, but she didn't know where he's from or who he is.

She denied telling him to come over to the house to hang out.

During questioning, police detected a strong odor of alcohol on Filitoga, whose next court appearance is set for Nov. 18th.


A man suspected of burglarizing the home of a Fijian couple in Fogagogo has been charged for disturbing the public peace (PPD).

Faamanatu Fidow is facing two misdemeanor charges: PPD and interfering with a police investigation. He made his initial appearance in District Court two weeks ago, where the court set bail at $300.

If he's able to post bond, Fidow is ordered to stay away from the home of the couple, and he is not to have any direct or indirect contact with the plaintiffs or any of the government's witnesses.

According to police, at around 11:23 p.m. on Oct. 11th, the landlord contacted police about a burglary at his rental unit. A Fijian couple rents the home in question.

When police arrived at the scene, they spoke to the Fijian couple and in the middle of the conversation, a male, later identified as the defendant, entered the house uninvited and yelled at the Fiji couple telling them that he didn’t break into their home.

Fidow then threaten the Fijian couple in the presence of police by telling them that he will come back to them later on and they will face trouble. He then left the house.

One hour later, Fidow returned to the couple’s home and knocked on the front door, demanding the couple come out to discuss the allegation that he broke into their home.

The couple contacted police and soon after, two police units with six police officers arrived and immediately apprehended Fidow and transported him to the Tafuna Police Substation for further investigation.

According to the police affidavit, before Fidow was escorted out of the house, the Fijian couple identified him as one of the people present when the Fijian man was robbed two months before, while he was in possession of a bag containing $1,280 cash, two personal phones, a laptop and multiple identification cards.

Fidow is scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 12th for a pretrial conference.