After serving 28 months in TCF, man again accused of stealing
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man who is on probation for burglary and stealing is now back in court on another stealing allegation. Police arrested Maalona Soo, also known as Maa Soo two months ago just after he was released from the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) after serving a 28-month detention.
Soo, 31, made his initial appearance in District Court before Associate Justice, Elvis P. Patea. During his initial appearance, he asked the court for a preliminary examination (PX).
Soo is charged with unlawful possession of methamphetamine (meth) and unlawful possess of marijuana (pot), both unclassified felonies, along with stealing, a class felony, punishable by imprisonment of up to 7 years, a $5,000 fine or pursuant to A.S.C.A , a fine equal to twice the amount of gain from the commission of said crime, up to a maximum of $20,000, or both such fine and imprisonment.
Bail is set at $20,000.
If he posts bond, Soo is ordered among other normal conditions to not make any direct or indirect contact with the government’s witnesses, including the victim, which is the Xie Store in Tafuna.
On Mar. 14th, 2021, an employee of the Xie store walked into the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS) to report a crime committed by an unknown person who allegedly stole a phone and a laptop from the store. Two police officers were assigned to investigate the crime.
The representative from the Xie store told investigators that a male individual with a tattoo on his neck walked into the store on the morning of Mar. 12th and described the manner in which the male committed the crime and how he then quickly walked outside and disappeared.
According to the Xie store representative, the perpetrator’s action on the day of the alleged incident was recorded on video camera, which was viewed by a representative of the company two days after the alleged incident and police were immediately contacted.
Investigators got a copy of the video footage from Xie Store and viewed it, which confirmed the statement given by the store’s representative. The person in the video footage was later identified by one of the police officers as Maalona Soo, the defendant in this matter.
Investigators then obtained an arrest warrant from the court and one week later, Soo was apprehended at his girlfriend’s home in Tafeta and was transported to the TPS for questioning where he was Mirandized. Soo said he wanted to tell his side of the story.
Soo told investigators that two months after his release from TCF, he went to the Xie store to meet his old friend who works there however, everything went wrong when he was told that his old friend no longer worked at the store.
He entered the store and walked around for few minutes before he allegedly stole items from the store. When asked by investigators what items he stole, Soo said it was a laptop and a phone.
According to Soo, he sold the laptop to a woman, but gave the phone to a couple to use and the couple gave him $50 for the phone. Investigators were able to retrieve the phone and the laptop from the couple and the woman and give it back to the Xie store, whose owner confirmed that they were the two items stolen from her store.
Before Soo was taken into custody for questioning, he was patted down and during the body search, officers discovered two small stamp size baggies inside his shirt pocket. One baggie contained white crystalline substance while the other baggie contained green leafy substance.
When asked about the substances found in his possession, Soo smiled and told officers, “the stuff belongs to me.”
The white crystalline substance was tested and the result revealed positive for meth. The green leafy substance was also tested and it revealed a positive result for THC, the active ingredient in pot.
During the PX, the government called their only witness to the stand, who also is the lead investigator in this case.
Working as a police officer for over 12 months now, the witness told the court that she received her training to become a police officer during the 27th Police Academy and on the job training.
The government witness told the court that it was revealed during her investigation that Soo went into the Xie store in the Tafuna area with the intention of stealing a laptop and a phone so that he could sell them to get money.
in cross examination, the defense attorney asked the government witness the reason why the case against his client was reported to police two days after the alleged incident. The witness told the court that Xie store only knew about the incident two days after when they viewed their video camera footage.
The defense attorney asked the witness again how was she so sure that his client was the person of interest in this case, and she responded that the team of investigators, who viewed the video footage from the store, included a police officer who knew the suspect from previous cases — and easily identified him from the video footage.
The court then found probable cause to bind Soo’s case to the High Court for arraignment.
Soo entered a not guilty plea to all the charges against him when he appeared in High Court last month for arraignment.
According to court files, in the previous court cases for which Soo was released in January, he was initially charged in 2 separate cases of stealing and burglary, and in the third case for escape from confinement.
Under a plea agreement with the government, Soo agreed to plead guilty to stealing in the first case; and 2 counts of stealing and 1 count of first degree burglary in the second case.
In return, the remaining charges were dismissed.
Soo was 26 years old when he appeared before the court for sentencing in August 2018. According to Probation, Soo dropped out of school when he was 12 years old.
The defendant’s sentences ran concurrently and he served a period of detention of 28 months at TCF.