Four men charged with stealing large quantity of tiles from K&K Island Star
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Four men were arrested and charged for allegedly stealing nearly $6,000 worth of tiles and thin set mortar belonging to K & K Island Star Cooperation, between May 1, 2020 and January 5, 2021. When questioned by police, their excuse was they felt they were underpaid and unappreciated.
The four men, Solomona Sefo, Faaleleiga Fatali’i, Chanel Galo — all employed by K & K along with Malala Galo, the older brother of co-defendant, Chanel Galo but not an employee of K & K, were all taken in pursuant to arrest warrants last week and made their initial appearance in District Court.
The four defendants are each charged with 4 counts including one count of aiding and abetting stealing; one count of stealing; one count of aiding and abetting embezzlement and one count of embezzlement; all class C felonies, punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to seven years, a fine of up to $5,000, or pursuant to A.S.C.A 46.2101, a fine equal to twice the amount of gain from the commission of said crime, up to a maximum of $20,000, or both.
The court has set bail at $30,000 for each of the four defendants subject to usual conditions.
The government alleges that on Jan. 5, 2021, the owner of K & K Island Star Cooperation called the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS) to report that an unknown vehicle had entered his company premises twice on Jan. 4, 2021.
The owner of K & K told officers that he reviewed the video footage from the weekend and discovered that his company containers had been broken into and tiles were stolen.
The K & K owner informed officers that the vehicle allegedly involved belongs to a former employee by the name of Chanel Galo (one of the co-defendants) and a company truck which was in the possession of Solomona Sefo (another co-defendant), entered the K & K premises.
The government alleges that Chanel Galo and Sefo removed tiles from the company containers without authorization.
The government stated that three defendants Fatali’i, Sefo and Chanel Galo told investigating officers that they felt they were underpaid and unappreciated. They complained that their salaries were only $5 per hour but the workload and the demands of their duties, they felt, exceeded their pay.
As a result, the three defendants conspired to steal boxes of tiles and bags of thin set and sell them to customers and other people they know.
The police investigation revealed two different plans to sell the stolen tiles and bags of thin set mortar.
One of the plans consisted of three of the four defendants, Fatali’i, Sefo and Chanel entering the K & K compound and opening the container prior to store hours and removing the items. Then when they prepared for a K & K delivery — Fatalii and Sefo would include the stolen items along with the quantity that was ordered by a customer, and sell the ‘extras’ to the receiver also.
The second plan comprised Fatalii and Sefo just stealing tiles and thin set mortar., loading up a truck, and selling them.
The stealing incidents happened from May 2020 to January 2021, according to the men, admitting that they sold items for money — personal gain. They said they did it because they were underpaid by their employer, while the brother said his brother asked him for help.
Under the first plan, it is noted that customers accepted the stolen items and paid for them.
While no burglary incidents are reported for November, two are confirmed in December 2020.
On Dec 30, 2020, according to video footage, a truck was seen entering the K & K property. The truck was found to be registered to the name of defendant Chanel and Malala Galo’s father. It was seen driven by Malala Galo, who is also a co-defendant in this matter, and inside the truck were also his brother and co-defendant, Chanel Galo.
Investigators questioned Malala regarding this incident where he stated that he was not aware of any intent to steal the tiles from K & K. He stated that all he knew was that his younger brother, Chanel, called him, asking if he could drive the truck as he was the only one with a valid driver’s license.
Malala verbally stated to investigators that he knew that his brother Chanel was no longer working at K & K. He stated that they picked up Fatalii at the bus stop near the Tafuna intersection and proceeded to the K & K compound. He said they stole 15 boxes of tiles and that the tiles were used at his home, in the living room.
A second incident happened on Dec. 31st, at about 6:37a.m. The same truck entered the K & K compound and proceeded to one of the containers. The vehicle was driven by Malala Galo and occupied by his brother Chanel and Fatalii. Fatalii and Chanel stole boxes of tiles and secured them in the back of the truck.
On the same morning, the K & K truck, in the possession of Sefo entered the K & K compound, pulled up to one of the containers and stole boxes of tiles and loaded them in the front seat of the company truck.
Then, while K & K was closed for the New Year holiday, n January 01, 2021, around 10:28a.m, a truck driven by Malala Galo and occupied by Fatalii and Chanel entered the K & K company, pulled up to one of the containers and stole boxes of tiles. Malala told investigators that the stolen boxes of tiles that day were delivered to his home and laid in the room adjacent to his living room.
On Jan. 3, 2021, Fatalii rented a truck, and about 4:45a.m on Jan. 4th, the rental truck, driven by Fatalii entered the K & K compound and where more boxes of tiles were stolen.
Fatalii left the compound and proceeded to Lions Park where another vehicle was parked and dropped off the stolen tiles in the back of that vehicle. Later on that day, Fatalii, stole more tiles and sold them as well.
On the next morning, Jan. 5, 2021, Fatalii went to the K & K compound and tried to steal more tiles, however, the locks had been changed and he couldn’t get access so he left the compound.
According to the K & K owner, the 16x16 cases of tiles cost $23.95 per box; the 24x24 cases of tile cost $27.95 per; and thin set mortar bags cost $11.95 each.
About 87 boxes of 16x16 tiles; about 129 boxes of 24x24 tiles; and about 20 bags of thin set mortar were stolen from K & K compound between May 2020 and Jan. 4, 2021.
Police are still looking for a fifth person of interest in this matter whose name is also mentioned in the court affidavit.