District Court hears two 'meth' caes
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man who was arrested last week for driving under the influence is now charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine) — a class D felony.
Faauuga Filipo made his initial appearance in District Court last week where he waived his right to a preliminary hearing. His case has been bound over to High Court.
Judge Elvis P. Patea established bond at $2,000 cash.
The government claims that Filipo’s vehicle was pulled over during a traffic stop because he was not wearing a seat belt.
When Filipo was informed of why he was stopped, cops detected a strong odor of alcohol emitting from his breath. Officers observed Filipo trying to reach the back seat of his vehicle.
Filipo’s vehicle was impounded and during the search, cops discovered a glass pipe containing a white crystalline substance, which tested positive for meth. When asked where he got the glass pipe, Filipo told officers that his friend who works at a mechanic shop in Nuuuli gave it to him in exchange for an old part he gave him for his vehicle.
The 34-year-old man convicted of unlawful possession of a glass pipe containing methamphetamine was sentence by the High Court last week to a term of probation of 5 years.
Finau Talosaga, was initially charged with two drug offenses: unlawful possession of the controlled substance methamphetamine, and unlawful possession of the controlled substance methamphetamine with the intent to distribute.
However, under a plea agreement with the government, the defendant pled guilty to the lesser of the two felony charges, and the other was dismissed.
With his guilty plea, the defendant admits that sometime in Apr. 19, 2018, he was in possession of a pipe that is used to smoke methamphetamine.
After his arrest, Talosaga spent 168 days behind bars before he posted bail ($5,000) and was released.
During sentencing, Talosaga apologized to the court and asked for another chance to be with his children and family.
“I feel embarrassed but mostly disappointed that I've brought shame to my family. My actions have taken me away from my children. I tried my best to care for my 2 children and at the time, also supporting my mother and my siblings,” Talosaga said, adding that the incident that led to his arrest was right after he had gotten out of a relationship.
He said that although this is not an excuse for the choice he made, he takes full responsibility for his actions and he knows that being involved with drugs was an inappropriate reaction to his break-up.
His attorney, Public Defender Michael White asked the court to uphold the Probation Office’s recommendation for a probated sentence.
Assistant Attorney General Laura Garvey supported White’s argument, saying the government believes Talosaga is a suitable candidate for a probated sentence, and the court will manage his probation, which will give him time to change his life and address his drug problem.
Talosaga was sentenced to 5 years probation, with conditions that include serving 20 months. He is being credited for time served which, according to the Probation Report, is 168 days, and the balance of the 20-month detention period will be stayed as long as he complies with all conditions of probation, over the next five years.
Other conditions of probation include not consuming alcohol or any type of illegal substance. He is also to submit himself for random alcohol and drug testing.
The court has given him 6 months to pay a $1,000 fine, and a month to clear all outstanding warrants and fines at the District Court.