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Defendant takes plea in marijuana case — assault and PPD charges dismissed

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man who was arrested for disturbing the public peace and later found with illegal drugs has entered into a plea agreement with the government.

Thomas Va’a appeared in court last week for a pretrial conference; however, when his case was called, defense attorney informed the court that they have reached an agreement with the government.

Va’a was initially charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, a felony; and two misdemeanor charges of third degree assault and public peace disturbance.

However, under a plea agreement with the government — accepted by the court — Va’a pled guilty to the amended, lesser charge of unlawful possession of marijuana, a class D felony carrying a possible sentence of up to 5 years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

With his guilty plea, Va’a admits that on the evening of June 3, 2020 at his home in Malaeimi, he had on him, three small baggies containing marijuana when police arrested him for disturbing the public peace.

According to terms of the plea agreement, several cops responded to a peace disturbance matter in Malaeimi on the night in question. Va’a was present when police pulled up. He was yelling profanities at his neighbor while holding a beer bottle in his right hand. He was heavily intoxicated and unable to walk.

Cops got the matter under control and Va’a was apprehended at the scene and placed inside a police unit for safety reasons, before he was transported to the Tafuna Police Substation for questioning.

During a body search, police discovered three small baggies containing marijuana on Va’a, who explained that one baggie belonged to him while the other two baggies belonged to a friend. He told investigators he bought it from a taxi driver who always came by to his house to sell drugs.

Va’a refused to reveal to investigators the identity of the man who sold him drugs.