Cops target alleged marijuana user
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 42-year-old taxi driver accused of disturbing the peace at a Nu’uuli store is now being charged with drug possession after police searched his vehicle and found two small baggies containing marijuana.
Ioane Ili, who is on probation for a stealing conviction 4 years ago, made his initial appearance in District Court last week.
Ili is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, a felony punishable by 5-10 years in jail, a fine of $5,000-$20,000; and 4 misdemeanors: public peace disturbance; third degree property damage; driving under the influence of alcohol; and third degree assault.
Bail is set at $5,000 and the preliminary examination is scheduled for Feb. 18th, 2021 at 1:30p.m.
The court denied a defense motion to reduce bail to $1,500
A man who witnessed a verbal argument between two men outside of a store in Nu’uuli contacted police for assistance, after the driver of a white taxi allegedly punched another man in the face.
Police arrived at the scene and noticed a crowd forming in front of the store, while a man was sitting on the ground, blocking the other side of the parking lot.
As cops approached the crowd, a white taxi that was parked in front of the store pulled out and left the scene, heading east. Eyewitnesses immediately informed officers that the driver of the white taxi that had just left was the man who punched the victim. The victim was lying on the concrete parking lot while another man was trying to assist him.
According to the caller, he was inside his vehicle when two men started arguing to the left of him. He told police he heard the taxi driver (the defendant) tell the other man (the victim) to reprimand his son before he does something to him.
The witness said he saw the driver punch the victim once in the face, causing the victim to fall to the ground. Another eyewitness told police that the incident started in the store. The two men had argued in front of the cashier and the exchange spilled out into the parking lot.
The eyewitness told police he could smell alcohol on the taxi driver when he passed him.
A police unit located the white taxi on the Avau road and immediately pulled it over. The driver was later identified as Ioane Ili, the defendant. Ili admitted to police that it was he who assaulted the man in front of a store in Nu’uuli because that man’s son broke into his daughter’s home and stole many personal belongings including a laptop and cash.
During a body search, police found in Ili’s pants pocket, two small baggies containing green leaves that later tested positive as marijuana. When asked about the weed, Ili told police he bought the baggies from an old friend in Tafuna.
Ili further admitted that he had consumed alcohol prior to the incident in Nu’uuli.
Police were able to speak to the victim at the LBJ Hospital where he was treated for minor injuries to his left eye. According to the victim, he was standing in line to pay for his shopping when Ili approached him and told him in a loud voice to return all the stuff his son stole from his daughter’s home.
The victim told Ili he didn’t know what he was talking about, but he would talk to his son regarding the allegation. On his way to his vehicle, the victim said Ili followed him and continued to harass him about the same issue. It was then that he told Ili to shut up. That’s when Ili punched him in the eye, causing him to fall.
In July 2014, Ili was sentenced to 5 years probation after he pled guilty to assault. As a condition of probation, he was ordered to remain law abiding and serve 20 months at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF).