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Case against co-defendant in the Petesa drug bust is dismissed

American Samoa High Court building
Prosecutor says Va’avale was at the wrong place at the wrong time

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The government’s case against one of the defendants in the drug case filed after police executed a search warrant on the Siaumau family compound in Petesa was dismissed yesterday morning, after Chief Justice Michael Kruse granted the government’s motion to dismiss its case against Eddieboy Va’avale, who has been in custody since his arrest in July, unable to post a $30,000 surety bond.

Prosecuting the case was Assistant Attorney General Christy Dunn, while Assistant Public Defender Rob McNeill represented Va’avale, who was in High Court yesterday for a hearing. Va’avale was charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a felony punishable by imprisonment of 5-10 years, a fine of $5,000-$20,000 or both.

When Va’avale’s case was called, the court was told that after reviewing discovery, the government feels that this is the right decision, as the illegal drugs allegedly discovered at the Siaumau family compound did not belong to Vaavale, and he was just at the wrong place at the wrong time.

It was around 1p.m. on July 12, 2019 when police entered the Siaumau family compound in Petesa to execute a search warrant for Thomas Siaumau, and an arrest warrant for Thomas’ brother, Elliott.

When cops arrived, 4 men were standing behind the Siaumau mechanic shop: Elliott Siaumau, Eddieboy Va’avale, Samatua Logoa’i and Toenuti Oloaga. The men appeared to have been in the middle of a meeting that was interrupted when cops showed up.

According to the government, all 4 men seemed nervous, especially Elliott and Va’avale. When he was being frisked, Va’avale attempted to push a black bag under a small table near the center of the group. The bag was confiscated and in it was 48 medium ziplock baggies; 2 separate bags containing 25 stamp sized baggies; and 2 medium sized baggies containing a clear crystalline substance, which tested positive for meth, with a street value of $25K-$35K.

On Elliott, police found $360 cash.

Vaavale told police that Elliott had the bag when cops entered the compound. But before police units turned the corner, Elliot tossed the bag to him to hide. He said the bag hit him in the chest, fell to the ground, and he tried to push it under the table with his foot.

When questioned, Elliott told police that the contents of the bag were for payment of services on multiple vehicles. He said this wasn’t the payment he wanted but he held on to the bag, which was untouched for about a week, as he was working out a different form of payment — a vehicle.

He said he was heading out to return the bag to the owner when police arrived and that’s when he ran and tossed the bag to Va’avale to hide.

Elliot will appear in court tomorrow for a hearing on a global plea agreement. He is charged in 4 separate cases and his attorney told the court this week that the government has agreed to combine all 4 cases in a global plea agreement.