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Gaisoa petitions gov't to reveal identity of their confidential informant

American Samoa High Court building
The motion has been taken under advisement

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Associate Justice Fiti Sunia has taken under advisement a motion filed by Samuel Gaisoa through his defense attorney, Marcellus Talaimalo Uiagalelei, seeking an order to allow the government to reveal the identity of their confidential informant (CI).

Gaisoa, who is out on a $50,000 surety bond, was in court yesterday for a hearing.

Uiagalelei, in arguing his motion, said police raided Gaisoa's home while Gaisoa was off-island. He said that based on the government’s case, the CI was present when Gaisoa was allegedly in possession of firearms and drugs.

The defense argues that this is a good break for their side — if they get the identity of this CI — to make sure they are well prepared for trial.

When Sunia asked Uiagalelei if he knew whether the government had the identity of the CI he’s asking for, Uiagalelei said he couldn't say.

However, he pointed out that his client has the right to know all the government’s witnesses, in preparation for trial.

Sunia interjected and said that Rule 16 does not allow that.

Uiagalelei fought back and said Rule 16 allows the government to provide all discovery to the defense, including the names of respective witnesses who will be called during trial.

“We have the right to ask the government to reveal the identity of their CI," Uiagalelei said, adding that the charges against his client are very serious.

Prosecutor Laura Garvey strongly opposed the motion, saying Rule 16 does not allow the government to disclose their CI to the defense. She said the duty of the government is to protect and safeguard their main witnesses in any case.

For the case against Gaisoa, Garvey said the allegations are very serious, and that’s why he's charged accordingly. She did confirm that Gaisoa was off-island when police executed a search warrant at his Kokoland home and also at his office (TMO Hardware in Tafuna).

Sunia wanted to know from Garvey if the government is calling their CI during trial. Garvey said it’s unclear at this time, but their only concern right now, is the safety of the CI.

The government claims that on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018 a search warrant was executed at an office on the 2nd floor of TMO (Tautua Mo Oe) Hardware and a residential structure in Kokoland, occupied by Gaisoa.

The office at TMO Hardware was searched first, in the presence of TMO owner Frank Gaisoa Sr. (whose name is mentioned in the affidavit), who confirmed to police that S. Gaisoa had recently left the territory to visit a family member.

Gaisoa Sr. further confirmed to police that only a few people had a key to the office in question: himself, Sam Gaisoa, and his wife.

The search uncovered a baggie containing a white crystalline substance appearing to be meth, weighing 3 grams; (4) nuggets of a green leafy substance appearing and smelling like marijuana in a glass container weighing 1 gram; multiple pieces of paraphernalia, including 2 glass pipes (commonly used to smoke meth) containing meth, and a broken glass pipe.

Members of the Gaisoa family — and later Gaisoa Sr himself — joined police during the search of the home occupied by the defendant, his wife, and 3 children.

The government said the weapons found were as follows: one 12 gauge shot gun; one MP5 submachine gun (converted to .22 cal); two Sig Sauer. 22 semi-automatic pistols (one loaded with x10 .22 rounds in the magazine); two M4 (AR15) rifles with numerous attachments (scopes, flash lights, and lasers fires 5.56 caliber rounds); one CX4 9mm (A pistol caliber semi-automatic carbine rifle) with built in suppressor; one dismantled .45 cal semi-automatic pistol; one dismantled UZI submachine gun with silencer/ suppressor; BB gun pistol with Co2 cartridge (loaded); and numerous spare magazines; accessories (i.e. holsters, lights, lasers, magazine pouches, load bearing vest) and weapons cleaning gear.

Police also discovered ammunition, including thousands of 5.56 rounds (bullets); over three hundred .45 rounds, and over one thousand 9mm rounds.

Police seized everything found during the two searches; with the white crystalline substance testing positive for meth and the green leafy substance yielded positive results for marijuana.