Despite the holiday season, drug and assault cases crowd courts
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The government has charged a 32-year-old man with unlawful possession of illegal drugs and for trying to break into a store in Fagaima in July of last year. Faasoo Gasetoto, a.k.a “BLOOD” made his initial appearance in District Court last month.
Gasetoto, who has a long criminal history, is charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance, resisting arrest and attempted burglary in the second degree — all class D felonies, along with disturbing the public peace (PPD), a class B misdemeanor.
The court set Gasetoto’s bond at $5,000.
If he posts bond, the court has ordered the usual restrictions, including he not set foot in the store he allegedly tried to break into, and to not make any contact with the government's witnesses.
According to the government’s case, a woman informed police about a young male who tried to break into a store in Fagaima by throwing rocks at the back door on the night of July 21st, 2019.
Police responded to the call but were unable to locate the suspect. However, two months later, Sept. 19, 2019 the same reporter contacted police again, telling them the man she saw trying to break into the store in July of last year assaulted her nephew by striking his head with a rock.
When police arrived at the location, they witnessed a crowd of people in front of a residence trying to hold down a man while another male individual was seen sitting on the ground with blood covering his face.
According to the reporter’s statement to police, the male sitting on the ground is her nephew who was allegedly assaulted by a man who was being held down by two other men at the side of the house.
After speaking with the reporter, police were able to secure the scene. EMS personnel were also contacted for assistance and the victim was immediately transported to the LBJ Medical Hospital for treatment while the other male was placed inside a police unit for his safety. The man was later identified as Faasoo Gasetoto, the defendant in this matter.
Police interviewed several witnesses including the woman who reported the matter for what happened.
Prior to transporting the suspect to the police station, a body search was carried out during which police discovered three rolled cigarettes wrapped together inside a small white envelope, along with two small stamp-sized baggies containing white crystalline substance inside his right pocket.
When questioned by police about the illegal drugs, Gasetoto said they were marijuana cigarettes and methamphetamine he got from a friend, who is selling the substances in the Vaitogi area. He did not reveal to police his friend's name.
When asked about the alleged incident where he allegedly assaulted another man by striking his head with a rock, Gasetoto stated that he was mad when the victim called out his name while he was standing in front of a store and told him that police are looking for him (Gasetoto) for stealing items from a store two months ago.
Out of anger, he walked over to where the victim was standing and had a verbal argument with him, before he picked up a rock and struck the victim’s head causing the victim to fall.
When asked about the alleged incident where he attempted to break into a store in the village in July of this year, Gasetoto said he doesn’t know anything about that case. He further stated to police that all of last year until he was arrested, he was working as a Security Guard, from 9p.m until 6a.m, and he didn’t have time to break into stores or houses at night.
A man from Samoa accused of violating local drug laws when he brought a small quantity of marijuana inside his luggage as he entered American Samoa in August of last year has pled guilty.
Asuni Olataga was initially charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance (marijuana), a class D felony; and an attempt to import a controlled substance into the territory, a class A misdemeanor.
Under a plea agreement with the government this week, Olataga pled guilty to the amended charge of unlawful possession of a controlled substance (marijuana). The remaining charge was dismissed.
With his guilty plea, Olataga admits that in Aug. 20th, 2019, he had in his possession a small stamp-sized baggie containing a small quantity of marijuana inside his luggage when he arrived at the Pago Pago International Airport.
As part of the plea agreement, the government is asking the court to sentence Olataga to 5 years probation, without any jail time at the TCF.
The court has accepted the defendant’s guilty plea, and sentencing is set for Jan 25, 2021.
Olataga was arrested after a Customs agent at the airport, during a routine search at the arrival terminal, found a small stamp-sized baggie with marijuana inside Olataga’s luggage.
On Aug. 30th, Olataga waived his right to a preliminary examination and his case was bound over to High Court. He appeared in court on Sept. 1st for arraignment. One of the conditions of his release, after posting a $2,000 cash bond, was that he remain drug and alcohol free.
On May 20th, 2020 Olataga appeared for his pretrial conference. Immediately afterwards, the defendant was ordered by the probation office to take a drug test. Olataga allegedly tested positive for marijuana, and he was immediately arrested and transported back to the TCF to await his initial appearance in High Court for a probation revocation hearing.
According to a report from the Probation Office, the defendant allegedly admitted that he smoked marijuana two weeks prior to the test. Olataga appeared in court two months ago for his preliminary examination on the allegation that he violated conditions of his release when he tested positive for marijuana.
When his case was called, Olataga’s defense attorney informed the court that the matter has been resolved between the defense and the government. He then asked the court to quash the Order to Show Cause (OSC) for his client in this matter.
Defense attorney said they have reached an agreement with the government, and Olataga is prepared to change his plea. The court accepted the defense’s motion and scheduled the defendant’s Change of Plea hearing for last week, and the court accepted his guilty plea.