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Arrest for alleged stealing of fine mats, leads to 2nd case — unlawful possession of drugs

American Samoa District Court building
Items stolen include three big fine mats

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA —  Otto Ta’avili was picked up on an arrest warrant on the allegation that he unlawfully entered the home of another family and stole several items including three big fine mats. In addition, he is now being charged with unlawful possession of drugs.

The government has filed two separate criminal cases against Taavili, who is not new to the court system. He made his initial appearance in District Court last week.

In the first case, Taavili, 30, is charged with stealing and second degree burglary, both class C felonies, punishable by imprisonment of up to 7 years, a $5,000 fine or a fine equal to twice the amount of gain from the commission of the crime, up to a maximum of $20,000, or both the fine and imprisonment.

In the second case, he is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, and unlawful possession of methamphetamine, both felonies.

Bond is set at $20,000.

Taavili’s attorney asked to have bail reduced to $5,000 surety for both cases; but the government’s attorney pointed out that Taavili is not new to the court system, and his actions in these two cases show the type of person he is. The prosecutor asked that bail be maintained in both cases and the court agreed.

When asked to sign the copy of the criminal complaint for the second case against him, Taavili refused.


On Dec. 24, 2019, an elderly couple reported to police that their Tafuna home was burglarized by an unknown person, and a lot of personal belongings were stolen. A week later, a man who claimed to be Taavilii’s brother-in-law told police about some stolen items that were brought into their home by the defendant.

Police spoke to a male who knew the defendant and said it was Taavilii who broke into the couple’s home on Dec. 23 and stole personal items. The witness further told police that it was Taavili who told him three days after the burglary that he (Taavili) broke into the couple’s home and stole several items.

When police started to look for Ta’avili, the suspect was nowhere to be found. However, on Sunday, Apr. 12th around 7:20p.m, police apprehended two men from Tafuna for disturbing the public peace by yelling out profanities and throwing empty beer bottles on the road. One of them was Taavili.

Taavili was taken in for questioning. He allegedly admitted to investigators that he broke into the elderly couple’s home around Christmas eve last year and took a number of things. He went on to say that some of the items he stole were sold to a friend of his in exchange for drugs, while others were given away for free to some of his friends.

Before Taavili was interviewed by police a pat down was conducted on Taavili, whereby cops discovered 3 clear baggies containing a white crystalline substance which fell from the right side of his shorts and later tested positive for meth.

Police also found two hand rolled joints inside his pant pocket, which later tested positive for marijuana,.

Taavili signed the arrest warrant for the burglary case; however, he refused to make a statement regarding the two marijuana joints and the 3 baggies of meth. When asked about the drugs, Taavili refused to talk but told police to go ahead with whatever they found on him. He said he understood what he did but didn’t want to offer any more information regarding the incident.

When asked about the items he allegedly stole from the couple’s home, Taavili said he gave most of them to a man named VICTOR and he’s still waiting for VICTOR to give him drugs in return.