Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The driver of a pickup truck, in which investigators allegedly found four small stamp sized baggies containing a white crystalline substance and drug paraphernalia, has been arrested and charged with unlawful possession of drugs.
Anesi Taualai, made his initial appearance in Court last month.
Taualai, 38, is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine (meth) and one count of unlawful possession of marijuana, both unclassified felonies punishable by imprisonment of 5-10 years, a fine between $5,000- $20,000 or both.
Bail is set at $5,000.
Taualai and another male, identified as Joseph Filipo were in a pickup truck driven by Taualai when patrol officers pulled them over in Nu’uuli on Jan. 30, 2022 for having no lights over the license plate.
As the officer was speaking to Taualai, he became suspicious of the way Taualai was acting. That is when officers instructed both men to exit the vehicle. Taualai was told that the vehicle would be impounded at the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS) and both of them would be taken in for questioning. Both men followed police instructions.
Before they were transported to the TPS for questioning, police conducted a body search on each of them. Nothing was found on the passenger.
However, police discovered four small stamp sized baggies containing a white crystalline substance inside Taualai’s right pocket. Inside his left pocket was a small stamp-sized baggie containing a green leafy substance, along with paraphernalia, including 7 empty small stamp-sized baggies commonly used to sell/ buy meth; and, a broken glass pipe commonly used to smoke meth.
When asked about the drugs and paraphernalia discovered in his possession, Taualai responded by saying that he found the drugs and paraphernalia inside the truck when he jumped inside, he then picked the items up and put them inside his pocket. He further stated to investigators that the truck belongs to his father-in-law and he’s using it to transport his crops to the market because his truck is not running due to a mechanical problem.
Taualai further stated to investigators that the reason why he picked up the drugs and paraphernalia and put it inside his pocket was to prevent his friend from seeing it. He didn’t want his friend to think that his father-in-law is someone who has a drug problem.
Police interviewed the passenger (Filipo) regarding the alleged incident. He told police that he was shocked when police found drugs and paraphernalia in his friend’s possession.
According to the passenger, he was at his house when Taualai came by and asked him if he wanted go with him to Vaitogi to pick up his stuff. When they arrived in Vaitogi, Taualai walked to a house and spoke to another man for over 20 minutes.
Before Taualai returned to the truck, he saw Taualai give money to the man who handed over to Taualai two small stamp-sized baggies. Taualai put one baggie in his right pocket and the other baggie in the other pocket before he made his way to the area where he was waiting inside the truck.
The passenger stated to investigators that when Taualai got inside the truck, he just smiled and said that he got the stuff he was looking for.
A 26-year old man from Tafuna was arrested by police last month on the allegation that he assaulted another man and stole his backpack that contained his money, cellphone and clothes.
Malaki Sililoto made his initial appearance in Court last month where he entered a not guilty plea to the charges against him of 3rd degree assault and stealing; both misdemeanors.
The government claims that it was around 9 pm on Feb. 01, 202 when TPS received a call from an anonymous caller regarding a man who was allegedly assaulted by a male individual in front of a store in Tafuna. Several police officers responded to the call.
A male individual who was at the store, and who was later identified as the victim in this case came forward and briefed police about the alleged incident.
The victim told police that he was walking in front of the store heading home but the defendant stopped him and asked if he (defendant) could use his phone to call his uncle to pick him up.
When the victim opened his backpack and tried to pull out his phone, the defendant allegedly punched him in the face causing him to fall down.
The defendant then allegedly grabbed his backpack and kicked his back multiple times before the defendant took off with his backpack.
The victim told cops that inside his backpack was his wallet containing over $100, his cellphone, shoes and clothes.
According to the government, as the defendant was assaulting the victim, he (defendant) told the victim to give him his phone. The victim told police that he was angry and at the same time scared but he had no choice but to give his phone to the defendant.
After the interview, Sililoto was identified by another individual, who lives in the area and came forward.
Police officers were able to spot the defendant while walking with his girlfriend on the road close to his house. The defendant was apprehended and placed in the police unit and brought to the police station. While apprehending the defendant, police noticed a strong odor of alcohol on his breath and he had slurred speech and bloodshot eyes.
The defendant refused to cooperate with police officers when he was asked about what allegedly happened. He kept telling police officers that if he gets locked up, he’s never getting out because he’s already got a bench warrant regarding an old case.
When he was asked about the money and the phone he allegedly took from the victim, the defendant told police that he had given it to his girlfriend. His girlfriend was nowhere to be found by police.
Sililoto was released on his own recognizance and he’s scheduled to appear in court next month for his pretrial conference.
The government has charged a 30-year-old man for unlawful possession of illegal drugs and for trying to break into a store in Vaitogi.
Aleki Sefo made his initial appearance in Court two months ago.
Sefo, who has a long criminal history in the court system, is charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance, to wit; marijuana, and attempted burglary in the second degree, both class D felonies, along with disturbing the public peace (PPD), a class B misdemeanor.
The court established Sefo’s bond at $5,000.
If he posts bond, the court has ordered that he not set foot in the store he allegedly tried to break into, plus the usual restrictions, including remaining alcohol and drug free and not make any contact with the government's witnesses.
According to the government’s case, a man informed police regarding a male who tried to break into a store in Vaitogi by throwing rocks at the back door of the store on the night of Jan. 25, 2022.
Police responded to the call but were unable to locate the suspect. Four days later, the same reporter contacted police again, telling them the man he saw trying to break into the store was within sight.
When police arrived this time, the witness pointed to the defendant who was playing soccer with some village youth. Police approached Sefo and asked if he could come with them to the station to discuss an important issue.
Sefo was apprehended and placed inside the police unit. He was later transported to the TPS for questioning. Prior to that, a body search was carried out during where police discovered inside Sefo's right pocket — two rolled cigarettes wrapped together inside a white blank paper.
Sefo told police they were marijuana cigarettes he got from a friend. He did not reveal to police what his friend's name is.
When asked about the alleged incident where he attempted to break in to a store in the village, Sefo said he doesn’t know anything about that case.
A man who was arrested two months ago for driving under the influence is now charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine (meth) - a class D felony.
Sofeni Filipo made his initial appearance in Court two months ago where he waived his right to a preliminary hearing.
The court established bond at $3,000 cash.
The government claims that Filipo’s vehicle was pulled over during a traffic stop because he was not wearing a seat belt.
When Filipo was informed of why he was stopped, cops detected a strong odor of alcohol emitting from his breath. Officers observed Filipo trying to reach out to the back seat of his vehicle.
Filipo’s vehicle was impounded and during the search, cops discovered a glass pipe containing a white crystalline substance, which tested positive for meth. When asked where he got the glass pipe, Filipo told officers that his friend who works at a mechanic shop in Nuuuli gave it to him in exchange for an old part he gave him for his vehicle.
A 39-year-old man from Tafuna accused of using a pocket knife to assault another man during a drinking session has been arrested and charged with second degree assault, a felony, punishable by not more than 5 years imprisonment, and/or a fine of not more than $5,000 or both; and two misdemeanor charges, unlawful use of a weapon and public peace disturbance.
The charges against Peleti Maeli stem from an incident that occurred last month in Tafuna, where he allegedly used a pocket knife to assault and severely injure another man for allegedly stealing tools and spare parts from his mechanic shop in December of last year.
According to the police report, Maeli and the victim got into a disagreement during a drinking session outside of Maeli’s mechanic shop regarding his tools that the victim allegedly stole. In the middle of the verbal disagreement, the victim allegedly assaulted Maeli by punching him in the face causing Maeli to fall and hit his head on the concrete floor.
The victim then walked back to his car that was parked a few feet away from the area where the alleged assault took place and attempted to leave the area.
However, when Maeli stood up, he grabbed a pocket knife with a blade of 6 inches that was in the back of his pickup and followed the victim, allegedly striking the victim’s head from behind causing an open cut on the left side of the victim’s head. The victim ran for help while Maeli followed him in an attempt to strike him again, however, Maeli’s two friends, who saw the incident, jumped in and stopped Maeli.
The defendant’s two friends also assisted the victim and immediately called police for assistance.
Maeli made his initial appearance in the Court last month, where he waived his right to a preliminary examination hearing. He is scheduled to appear in court on May 28 for his first pretrial conference in High Court.
The defendant’s attorney asked the court for a reduction in bail from $10,000 to $3,000, which was denied by the court.
Maeli remains in custody in prison unable to post bond.