Driver accused of drunk driving tells police he’s Governor Lolo's nephew … he can’t be touched or arrested
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The driver of a vehicle, who was stopped for not wearing a seatbelt, and later accused of violating local drug laws after police allegedly found a hand rolled marijuana joint in the vehicle, told police nobody can touch him or arrest him because he’s the nephew of Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga.
Marquis Leauma, 33, also known as Marquis Moliga made his initial appearance in District Court last week. He is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, a felony punishable by imprisonment of 5-10 years and a fine of $5,000-$20,000 or both; along with several traffic citations including driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI), a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000 or both.
Bail is set at $5,000.
Leauma was arrested after refusing to take the Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) when he was pulled over for not wearing a seatbelt. Cops first observed Leauma’s vehicle making a sharp turn into the intersection next to the Tafuna Substation.
He was not wearing his seatbelt and police pursued the vehicle, which they say was veering to the right side of the road, nearly hitting the curb, before coming back to the middle of the northbound lane. As per police instructions, Leauma turned into the SPA parking lot.
Two males were in the vehicle: the driver, Leauma, and 24-year-old Allen Tuiletufuga, the passenger.
Officers observed Leauma’s bloodshot eyes and informed him of why he was stopped. When asked for his driver’s license, Leauma told police he has a California driver’s license, and in slurred speech, added that he didn’t have it with him - it was at his cousin’s house.
Officers detected a strong odor of alcohol on Leauma’s breath and the smell of marijuana coming from the interior of the vehicle. When asked for his name, the driver said his real name is Marquis Moliga, and his uncle is the Governor of American Samoa. Police later found out that the driver is also known as Marquis Leauma.
When asked if he had been drinking, Leauma said no. He was then informed of the SFST and told that he was going to take it. Leauma agreed and was instructed to step out of the vehicle.
Officers assisted Leauma to the rear of his vehicle where he was asked to perform the first portion of the SFST, the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus. Leauma was asked if he had any eye problems and he said he was waiting for his prescription glasses. When officers asked Leauma if they could still conduct the test, he said yes.
Leauma was led across the road to an area in front of the ASTCA building where the second portion of the SFST— the Walk and Turn — was to be administered. When asked if he had any leg or feet problems, Leauma said yes but then touched his right knee and said, “It’s okay, I’m able to do it.”
Officers asked Leauma again if he was sure he’s able to perform the walk and turn and he said yes. During the instruction and demonstration stages of the test, Leauma kept interrupting the officers and refused to stop talking and comply with instructions given.
He fell out of the beginning stance of the test after a few minutes and continued to be rude and uncooperative. He was then asked if he is able to carry out the test, and that’s when he said no.
Leauma was told that his refusal meant he will be under arrest for driving under the influence. He was read his rights and transported to the Tafuna Substation for questioning.
Officers discovered at the scene of the traffic stop, a nearly empty open container (foam cup) of liquor in the passenger door cup holder belonging to the passenger, Tuiletufuga, who was also taken in for questioning. The vehicle was impounded.
At the station, Leauma was read his rights but he refused to sign. He also continued to respond rudely to the lead investigator, saying, “You should go to America to learn.” He refused to make a statement or answer any questions.
Leauma was presented a copy of the Implied Consent form that was read to him, but in a loud voice and speaking over the lead investigator, Leauma said he wasn’t going to sign anything, that he has a right to his freedom of speech, and is pleading the 5th.
He told police he is the nephew of Governor Lolo Moliga and he wished to call him and report the harassment. He went on to say that nobody can arrest him because he’s the nephew of the Governor of American Samoa.
Leauma also refused to sign the citations because he said he didn’t do anything wrong. The impounded vehicle is registered to Sale Young of Vaitogi and according to Leauma, he was already in the process of making payments for the vehicle to Young for $7,000
During an inventory of the vehicle, cops found what appeared to be a hand rolled marijuana joint under the passenger seat and in proximity to the driver. When asked about the joint, Leauma replied, “It’s not mine, I don’t smoke weed.”