Court Report: Two men arrested for beating up employees at store say it's the other guys fault
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Two men were arrested last month on the allegation that they damaged a store in Nu’uuli and assaulted employees. When police searched one of the two men, illegal drugs were found in his pocket.
Mealamu Paulino and Afato Lilo made their initial appearances in court last month.
Paulino is charged with 3rd degree Assault and Property Damage, both class A misdemeanors.
Lilo is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine (meth) and one count of unlawful possession of marijuana, both felonies, along with one count of 3rd degree assault and one count of resisting arrest, both misdemeanors.
Bail is set at $1,000 for Paulino, while Lilo’s bail is set at $10,000.
It was around 8:50p.m on June 5th, 2021 when the owner of a store in the Nu’uuli area contacted the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS) to report that two males were disturbing the peace at his store by throwing a rock that shattered his store window.
Several police officers responded to the call and met up with the owner of the store who briefed them on the alleged incident.
According to the store owner, two of his employees, who were named in the court affidavits as Victims 1 & 2, informed the two men that they couldn’t buy beer since they didn’t have identification (ID) to confirm they are 21 years of age or older.
Out of anger, Paulino picked up an empty beer bottle near the store and threw it at the window, shattering it. As Victim 1 opened the door to confront him, Paulino grabbed Victim 1 by the neck and threatened him by stating that he is going to kill him if he didn’t back off.
Victim 1 instructed Paulino to go back home because he’s too drunk, but Paulino didn’t listen, instead he pushed Victim 1 forward causing him to fall and hit the back of his head on the cement slab outside the parking lot. That is when Victim 2 engaged with Paulino.
Paulino punched Victim 2’s face, who responded by punching Paulino. That’s when Lilo jumped Victim 2 and punched him. A few moments later, Victim 1 was able to stand up and help Victim 2 to fight the two defendants.
Paulino was fighting Victim 2 while Lilo was fighting Victim 1, and at one point the melee had Lilo punching Victim 2 multiple times and then both defendants assaulted Victim 1, who was now down on the dirt road next to the store. To help Victim 1, as he was being beaten up by both suspects, Victim 2 grabbed a stick and hit Lilo several times to break up the fight.
Both defendants fled the scene after the assault.
On the following day, June 6th around 6:05a.m, several police officers proceeded to the scene for a follow up investigation. After interviewing bystanders at the store, an unknown male informed officers where the two suspects live. Officers went to the suspects’ residence and found them there. Both suspects were apprehended and transported to the TPS for questioning.
The police conducted body searches but nothing was found on Paulino. Lilo, on the other hand, was found with a stamp size baggie with white crystalline substance, in his pocket. The white crystalline substance was later tested and confirmed positive for meth. Police also discovered another stamp size baggie containing green leafy substance, which was tested and confirmed positive for THC, an active compound in marijuana.
When questioned by investigators, Paulino immediately apologized for their action and told investigators that it was the two store employees who started the fight. According to Paulino’s statement, victim 1 pushed him outside causing his head to hit the store’s front door.
That’s when Lilo pushed Victim 1 back and punched him. He jumped him and joined the fight by throwing punches at Victim 1.
Lilo echoed Paulino’s statement saying that they were victims in this matter. When questioned about the drugs found on him, Lilo said he found the meth and marijuana outside on the parking lot before the fight started.
A young man with two outstanding bench warrants from the High Court was arrested for allegedly trying to break into a vehicle in the LBJ parking lot last month.
Siaosi Lologa made his initial appearance in District Court three weeks ago where the court ordered him to be released on his own recognizance under certain conditions, including making all of his court appearances and being in close contact with his attorney.
Lologa is being charged with attempted stealing and public peace disturbance, both class A misdemeanors.
According to the government’s case, an eyewitness contacted police from a restaurant parking lot in the Tafuna area on a Friday morning, reporting that someone was trying to break into a parked vehicle.
Several police officers arrived and found Lologa near the scene. While processing him for booking, police officers discovered that the defendant had two outstanding warrants from the High Court for failure to comply with conditions of his cases from 2018 and 2019.
Before he made his initial appearance in District Court, Lologa appeared in High Court for an Order to Show Cause (OSC) hearing, where the court ordered him to be released on his own recognizance to await his next court appearance next month.
The District Court sentenced Nathan Polito to 12 months probation last week after he pled guilty to two misdemeanor counts of trespassing on land belonging to a neighboring family, and third degree assault, under a plea agreement with the government.
According to court information, Polito’s family got into a dispute with a neighbor, resulting in the accused going to the neighbor’s property and assaulting a male.
Prior to being sentenced, Polito apologized to the court for his actions. The court said Polito’s actions could have resulted in a more serious outcome, affecting the defendant’s life, as well as causing trouble in the neighborhood.
Among the conditions of Polito’s probation is that he pay a $125 fine within 90-days of being on probation, and he must maintain the peace with his neighbors, be a law abiding citizen, and attend and complete anger management counseling.
The court reminded Polito that he now has a criminal record in the court system and he must be very careful because that would count against him if he ends up committing a more serious offense in the future.
Last week, the District Court sentenced Henry Valaau to 15 days behind bars, after he was convicted of public peace disturbance (PPD) while on probation.
“This is how things work in this courtroom; once you violate a condition of your probation, we’re no longer talking about counseling, we’re talking about jail terms, and that’s what you get for disobeying the court's order," the court said.
“So, if you want to try the court again, go ahead because your next conviction will be higher than this one,” the court told Valaau during sentencing last week.
Valaau was on probation for 12 months after he was convicted last year of PPD and 3rd degree assault, both misdemeanors. One of the many conditions of his probation, included keeping the peace with his girlfriend and remaining a law-abiding citizen.
In February of this year, police re-arrested the defendant on another PPD charge for which he was convicted last week. On the same date, he was sentenced to 15 days incarceration as a condition of violating his probation.
The court strongly advised Valaau that if he fails to comply with conditions of his probation again, there will be no more weekends at TCF, but he would be ordered to serve the suspended period of his detention, which is 12 months.