Court cases last week include drugs, stealing, DUI and PPDs
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 30-year-old man from Mapusaga accused of violating local drug laws told the court through a combined plea agreement with the government that allegations against him are true. He was later released to await sentencing next month after the court accepted his change of plea.
Willie Pulou, who has been in custody since his arrest this year appeared in High Court last week for his Change of Plea (COP) hearing.
Pulou was initially charged with unlawful possession of methamphetamine (meth). But in a plea agreement with the government, accepted by the court, Pulou pled guilty to a lesser, amended charge, a class D felony punishable by up to 5 years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000 or both.
With his plea, Pulou admits that on Sept. 19, 2020, he unlawful possessed a plastic baggie containing meth.
According to terms of the plea agreement, Pulou was arrested during a traffic stop after police pulled over his vehicle for speeding. At the time, Pulou didn’t have his driver’s license, or any photo ID in his possession, which resulted in his vehicle being impounded by police, and he being taken to the TPS.
Prior to being transported, Pulou was patted down and the officer discovered two plastic baggies containing meth.
Sentencing is set for next month.
A young man from Tafuna convicted of stealing a box of mechanic tools from the back of a vehicle and selling it for $300 was sentenced by the court last week to time served. According to court records, Apelu Siaosi served 12 and 1/2 months at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) while awaiting the outcome of this matter.
Siaosi was originally charged with stealing and fraud, both class C felonies, punishable by imprisonment of up to 7 years, a $5,000 fine or pursuant to A.S.C.A 46.2101, 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 for each count.
Under a plea agreement with the government, Siaosi pled guilty to stealing. He admits that on July 22, 2020 he stole a box of mechanic tools from the back of a vehicle belonging to another man and sold it to his friend who owns a mechanic shop for $300.
Siaosi was still in custody after he was arrested until last month when he appeared for his Change of Plea hearing, unable to post a $5,000 bond. However, the court granted Siaosi’s attorney’s motion to release him on his own recognizance after the court accepted the plea agreement.
When Siaosi appeared in court last week for sentencing, his attorney asked for a probated sentence without any additional period of detention. The government’s attorney did not oppose.
After a short deliberation, the court sentenced Siaosi to time served, which was 12 and a half months. The court did not order any restitution.
According to the court, the Probation Office was unable to locate other parties involved in this case.
An intoxicated man who was picked up by cops on Aug. 4th, 2021 and charged with public peace disturbance (PPD) and resisting arrest has been released on his own recognizance, under standard conditions.
Talaloa Aleki made his initial appearance in District Court last week. His next court appearance is next month.
According to the government's case, the alleged disturbance occurred in Tafuna. When police arrived, Aleki who allegedly had fled, was being chased down the roadside by two men. Cops pulled up alongside Aleki who "continued to walk away."
Court documents state that Aleki raised his hands up and continuously said that what he did was in self-defense. Cops noted that Aleki had sustained a laceration on his left eyebrow.
A witness told police that Aleki was drinking with some friends near the scene and when he walked into his uncle's home, he heard his girlfriend "laughing loudly" in the presence of others and this upset him.
Aleki’s friend and his son "attempted to calm" Aleki down but he "became more aggressive," according to the criminal complaint.
He ran out of the house when he heard his friend calling the police.
According to investigators, Aleki resisted when he was being handcuffed and he "attempted to flee but was blocked" by two officers.
Aleki was transported to the hospital via ambulance and treated in the LBJ Emergency Room before he was taken to jail.
Aleki is not new to the court system having served a 12-month probation in 2018 for assault, for which he was ordered to serve a period of detention of 30 days.
A man driving while his license is permanently suspended from previous DUI convictions is now facing a felony charge.
The government claims that it was on a Saturday morning last month when a police officer observed a four-door vehicle being driven on the main road in Pago Pago, without a rear license plate.
The police officer pulled the vehicle over, and approached the driver, who identified himself as Peni Faaolataga, the defendant in this case.
The officer contacted the DPS dispatcher for more information regarding the vehicle and the driver. The dispatcher informed the officer that the license plate at the front of the vehicle did not match the vehicle he had just pulled over, and that Faaolataga’s driver’s license had been permanently suspended on Dec. 14, 2018 — after the he was convicted of his 3rd DUI.
The defendant told the officer that he had forgotten his license at home; and when asked if it was true that his license was permanently suspended, the defendant denied it, repeating that he did not have his license with him — it was at home.
Faaolataga made his initial appearance in court last month where he was charged with one count of felony driving, a class D felony, punishable by imprisonment of up to 5 years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
Bail was set at $5,000.
If he posts bond, the court ordered Faaolataga not to drive any motor vehicle in American Samoa, as well as standard conditions of a bond.
During his initial appearance, Faaolataga waived his rights to a preliminary examination and his case was bound over to the High Court where he entered a not guilty plea to the single charge against him during his arraignment last week.
Pretrial conference is set for next month.