Court still trying to determine who stopped drug test of TCF inmate
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The High Court has scheduled another revocation hearing for inmate Sierra Isaia within the next three weeks in an effort to find out who was the Correctional Officer (C.O) who stopped two Probation Officers from conducting a drug test on Isaia in March of this year at the Territorial Correctional Facility.
Chief Justice Michael Kruse ordered the government’s attorney, Assistant Attorney General Laura Garvey to issue a subpoena to another C.O, only known as “Mila” to appear in court on Aug. 7th, 2020, when the next hearing is now scheduled.
According to one of the witnesses who testified during Isaia’s revocation hearing last Friday, it was a C.O by the name of Mila who had the key to the door to Isaia’s cell. The door was locked when two Probation Officers visited the TCF last March, and that’s the reason the two Probation Officers were unable to go inside Isaia’s cell to conduct his drug test. According to the witness, Mila resigned from the TCF a few months ago.
Two witnesses testified during Isaia’s revocation hearing last Friday. Isaia, who is serving 6 years in jail is represented by Assistant Public Defender Rob McNeill while Garvey is prosecuting.
The first witness called was C.O Li’a Milo, while the second witness was Gabriel Tinai, who is an inmate at the TCF.
C.O Milo, who has worked as a Correctional Guard since December of 2019 told the court that he was one of the guards working on the morning shift of Mar. 4th, 2020, the same time two Probation officers came to the TCF to conduct drug testing on several inmates, including Isaia.
According to C.O Milo’s testimony, he was stationed at the Bravo Unit when a police sergeant called him to come to the front office to escort two Probation officers to the Alpha Max to conduct drug tests on several inmates.
C.O Milo told the court that he escorted the two Probation officers to the office in the Alpha Max where he stood by there, while the other two guards escorted the Probation officers to the location where they could conduct their work (drug tests).
When asked who the two guards were, C.O Milo said he couldn’t recall since he was stuck for four months in Upolu after his father’s funeral.
C.O Milo continued to claim — every time he was asked by the government’s attorney — that he was standing by in the front office at the Alpha Max while two other guards escorted the two Probation officers inside.
When asked if he was familiar with Isaia, the witness said yes, Isaia is an inmate who is serving a period of detention at the TCF. He further stated that on the day in question, Isaia was unable to walk due to gout that affected his foot.
C.O Milo was asked whether TCF allowed any inmates to hang around outside of their cells in the Alpha Max during the day. C.O Milo said no. He further stated that inmates couldn’t have the keys to the Alpha Max door, only the guards.
Garvey asked the witness if there is any reason why inmates blocked the door to the Alpha Max without the guards’ knowledge. The witness replied, “I don’t know.”
When asked whether he saw inmate Tinai walking around the Alpha Max on the morning when the two Probation officers visited. The witness said, “no”.
Kruse asked the witness to tell the court how many officers were working on that morning shift. C.O Milo said there was himself and another guard working at the Bravo Unit but he didn’t know how many guards were stationed at the Alpha Max.
Kruse asked the witness whether he attended a Police Academy. The witness replied, “no”.
The second witness was called to the witness stand.
Tinai, 32, explained to the court the reason why inmates were walking around the Alpha unit on that day, and the reason why the two Probation officers were unable to enter through the door to the Alpha Max.
According to Tinai, there are two different cell blocks. One is called Alpha Max, the place where he and Isaia were housed and the other place is called Alpha B.
The door to the Alpha B was open and that’s why inmates were walking around, while the door to the Alpha Max was locked, so, he and Isaia were inside the Alpha Max.
He told the court that he noticed that the two Probation officers wanted to enter the Alpha Max but the problem was, the door was locked. He tried to call to the guard to bring the key to open the door but the guard never came.
Kruse asked Tinai who was the guard who had the key to the Alpha Max door on that day and Tinai said that it was a guard by the name of “Mila”. According to Tinai, Mila resigned from his job a few months ago.
Kruse asked Tinai whether he was telling the truth to the court, and Tinai said, “yes”.
After hearing the two witnesses’ testimonies, Kruse then ordered that a third hearing into this matter would be set for three weeks and the court wanted this person by the name Mila to be subpoenaed to appear in court.
This case got the attention of the court after two Probation officers filed their report back in May regarding an alleged incident that happened inside the TCF compound during their visit in March. The report stated that the two Probation officers feared for their safety when another inmate allegedly tried to interfere with their job.
That inmate was Tinai.
The two Probation officers are Deputy Probation officer, Saipale Vaouli and his co-worker, Tafito Aitaoto.
As a result of the inmate’s action, the two Probation officers left TCF unable to conduct a drug test on Isaia.
According to Vaouli’s testimony, they went on that day to conduct random testing of probationers serving time at the TCF — one of them was Isaia. One of the conditions of Isaia’s sentence (Dec. 14, 2019) was to submit himself for random testing on the demand of any probation officer or police officer.
Isaia, 42, was serving 80 months at the TCF for a drug conviction after pleading guilty to charges in two cases. In the first case, he pled guilty to the amended count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine. He also agreed to plead guilty to the amended count of unlawful possession of meth in the second case.
He was released on a $15,000 cash bond after his initial appearance.
Four months later, he was pulled over in Iliili for a loud muffler. Two small baggies and a glass pipe containing a white substance that later tested positive for meth were found in Isaia's pants pocket during a body search, in addition to several empty baggies and $190 cash.