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Alleged serial escapee charged with escape and other crimes

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 29-year old man confined at the Tafuna Correctional Facility (TCF) has been charged with escape, and while outside allegedly committing burglary, stealing, and trespassing in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) compound.

Joeita Fa’aliga, according to the court affidavit, allegedly committed these crimes on Nov. 17, 2022, in the early morning hours (between 1am - 3am).

He is charged with 9 counts of criminal complaint — Burglary in the 1st-degree; Possession of burglar’s tools; Trespass; 3 counts of Stealing; Class A Misdemeanor Stealing; Escape from confinement and Tampering with or Fabricating physical evidence.

If convicted on all counts, Fa’aliga is looking at a possible 37 years and six months of imprisonment plus fines added to the current sentence he is serving for felony crime convictions.

The currency Fa’aliga allegedly stole is in U.S., Fijian and Samoa dollars and each is valued at “$100 or more, to wit: … with a value of $2,000 belonging to the Federal Aviation Administration.”

Bail is denied.

According to the court affidavit, the matter was initially reported to the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS) on Nov. 17, 2022 by an employee of the FAA Office. During the investigation, security footage was reviewed and a male, with his face and body covered, was seen roaming around in the FAA compound, committing burglary, trashing and ransacking office rooms, as well as stealing cash in different currencies, each valued at $2,000.

He was also seen unplugging the DVR for the FAA’s security cameras and dumping it outside of the FAA premises.

On Nov. 29, 2023, a review of the security footage provided by the FAA on a flash drive to police revealed that the suspect was Fa’aliga, who is an inmate at the TCF.

Despite covering “his whole face, neck area, and both of his hands to conceal his identity,” he was unable to hide a “tattoo which was on his right leg, this same tattoo is also seen on some previous cases received by CID which identified Mr. Fa’aliga to be the suspect.”

According to the affidavit, police identified Fa’aliga as the main suspect (seen on security footage of numerous business and residential areas) in various burglaries. They said that Fa’aliga would “escape out of the TCF walls unnoticed by TCF guards and would go on a burglary spree … within the area, and would later enter back into the TCF walls with the TCF guards noticing.”

It was during the course of past investigations into Fa’aliga’s crimes that a police detective took photos of all of Fa’aliga’s tattoos. It was one of these photos that was matched and identified as the tattoo seen on the leg of the defendant on the security footage of the FAA compound.

On Jan. 10, 2023, police met with Fa’aliga who denied burglarizing the FAA building. “According to Mr. Fa’aliga the day of the FAA burglary he was asleep in his prison cell.”