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Court schedules sentencing in drug and escape cases

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A taxi driver and a passenger who were arrested and charged for violating local drug laws after police executed a search warrant on a taxi cab in Ottoville last year have entered into a plea agreement with the government.

Assistant Public Defender Ryan Anderson represents Tuliatu Vaita’i, 24, and Tiafau Faumui, 41, while prosecuting is Assistant Attorney General Laura Garvey.

Vaita’i, a taxi driver, was initially charged with unlawful possession of methamphetamine and unlawful possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute. But under a plea agreement with the government, accepted by the court, he pled guilty to a lesser, amended charge.

In court last week, Vaita’i admitted that on Apr. 19, 2018 he unlawfully possessed 4 stamp-sized baggies containing meth. The intent to distribute charge was dismissed.

Faumui was initially charged with unlawful possession of methamphetamine. But a plea agreement with the government, accepted by the court, allowed Faumui to plead guilty to a lesser, amended charge, a class D felony punishable by up to 5 years in jail, and a fine of up to $5,000 or both.

With his guilty plea, Faumui admits that on Apr. 19, 2018 he had in his possession, 2 glass pipes containing meth. He said the two glass pipes belonged to him and he bought them for $100 from his friend Vaita’i, before they were pulled over by police.

Vaita’i and Faumui have both been in custody since they were arrested, unable to post $5,000 cash bonds. They will be sentenced June 12th.


A man from Petesa has been convicted of escape from confinement, a felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than 5 years, and/or a fine of not more than $5,000 or both.

Under a plea agreement, Mikaele Tautua, 26, admits that on/or about April 04, 2018, he escaped from the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) while serving a 5-year sentence handed down in 2015 for second-degree assault.

The government is recommending that Tautua be sentenced to 5 years in jail, to run consecutively with his previous sentence.

Tautua is not new to the justice system. He first appeared in court back in 2013 where he was convicted of assaulting a taxi driver by punching him in the face while he was inside the car. At the time, he was ordered to serve 20 months imprisonment as a condition of a 5-year probation term.

A few months after he was released in 2016, police arrested him again for assaulting another man and stealing his wallet. In that case, Tautua was convicted of second-degree assault and ordered to serve 5 years in prison.

Last year, Tautua escaped from the TCF.

He will be sentenced July 19th.