COURT REPORT: Two more drug cases, one going to jury trial
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man who is on probation for stealing was arrested again by police on the allegation he violated local drug laws.
Faleti Tagaloa was a passenger in a red pick-up truck that was pulled over by police three weekends ago in Iliili where two glass pipes containing white crystalline substance were found in his pants pocket.
The government claims that on the early morning of June 20th, 2020, two police officers patrolling the Iliili public highway observed a blue pick-up truck with no light on the license plate and also with an expired tag.
Police officers pulled the vehicle over and found male individuals inside the vehicle, including Tagaloa, who was sitting in the passenger seat.
The driver of the vehicle, Tile Kolai is the owner of the vehicle, who provided his valid immigration I.D and driver’s license to officers. The vehicle registration is valid until October 2020. Kolai received 3 traffic citations from the officers.
While officers were speaking to the driver, the defendant, Tagaloa, opened the passenger’s door and exited the vehicle. An officer instructed Tagaloa to stay inside the vehicle but Tagaloa continued to walk to the back of the vehicle while at the same time trying to reach inside the rear left pocket of his pants.
As the other officer walked over to the area where Tagaloa was standing, Tagaloa immediately took off and ran to the other side of the road and continued fleeing from the officer. Officers, along with the help from the driver of the vehicle and another male passenger chased Tagaloa for few minutes before he was apprehended in front of an Asian store across from the Lupelele Elementary School.
A body search was conducted on Tagaloa where officers discovered two glass pipes containing white crystalline substance inside. The white crystalline substance was tested and turned out positive for methamphetamine.
Tagaloa told officers he got the two glass pipes containing meth from his friend for $50, and the reason he smoked meth is to give him strength while performing his work at his plantation.
The driver of the vehicle was also interviewed by police regarding Tagaloa’s presence inside his vehicle during the traffic stop. The driver told officers that he only knows Tagaloa from selling his taro and bananas around their neighborhood. He was on his way to pick up his brother-in-law from work when Tagaloa flagged down his vehicle and asked for a ride back home to Vailoa.
Tagaloa made his initial appearance in court. He’s charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a felony, punishable by term of imprisonment from 5 to 10 years, a fine not more than $20,000, or both.
Bail is set at $5,000 and preliminary examination is scheduled for Tuesday next week at 10a.m.
A man accused of violating local drug laws had asked the court to set his matter for trial. Tui Faamanatu, who had been in custody since his arrest last year, unable to post a $5,000 surety bond, appeared in court last month for his pretrial conference.
When his case was called, his defense attorney, Rob McNeill informed that the court that they received discovery and an offer from the government, however, after reviewing it, his client wishes to exercise his rights to a jury trial.
Faamanatu is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a felony, punishable by imprisonment of not less than five nor more than 10 years, a fine of not less than $5,000 nor more than $20,000, or both.
The charge against Faamanatu stems from an incident when police arrested him and another man for disturbing the public peace. During the pat down, a small baggie containing methamphetamine was found by police inside his pants.